News and Commentary Archive

Explore recent scientific discoveries and news as well as CLBB events, commentary, and press.

Mission

The speed of technology in neuroscience as it impacts ethical and just decisions in the legal system needs to be understood by lawyers, judges, public policy makers, and the general public. The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior is an academic and professional resource for the education, research, and understanding of neuroscience and the law. Read more

WATCH – “Re-Envisioning Pain: How Breakthroughs on the Science of Suffering Could Revolutionize Legal Understanding and Outcomes”

Pain is at the heart of legal areas from tort to torture, and yet legal decision-makers may be relying on scientifically outmoded concepts of pain and its effects. This Symposium brought together legal and medical experts to discuss:

Click to view event poster.

Click to view event poster.

  • Recent scientific breakthroughs in the understanding of pain, including long-term neurological changes
  • The complicated relationship between pain and emotion, and how studying how physical and emotional pain are represented in the brain can help us understand their similarities and differences
  • How updated understanding of the neuroscience of pain can help improve legal outcomes—and where the limits are

The conversation, presented by the CLBB Pain & Suffering working group, with support from the Harvard Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative, was facilitated by Judy Foreman, an investigative journalist and author of A Nation In Pain: Healing Our Country’s Greatest Health Problem. Continue reading »

WATCH – Imaging Brains, Changing Minds: How Pain Neuroimaging Can Help Transform the Law

Click to view event poster.

Click to view event poster.

On Thursday, January 22, 2015, CLBB Senior Fellow in Law & Applied Neuroscience Amanda Pustilnik presented the Psychiatry Grand Rounds at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Pustilnik reviewed her research at the intersection of pain and the law in a talk titled “Imaging Brains, Changing Minds: How Pain Neuroimaging Can Help Transform the Law.” Continue reading »

Exploring the Brain in Pain: An Applied Neuroscience & Law Initiative

Amanda Pustilnik, JD

I am excited to join CLBB as the first Senior Fellow in Law & Applied Neuroscience. This fellowship is the product of an innovative partnership between CLBB and the Petrie-Flom Center of Harvard Law School. This partnership aims to translate developments in neuroscience into legal applications, remaining sensitive to the normative dimensions of many – if not all – legal questions. The field of law & neuroscience is large and growing, addressing questions that intersect with nearly every area of law and a huge range of social and human concerns. CLBB is bringing together scientists, bioethicists, and legal scholars to look at questions ranging from criminal responsibility and addiction, to mind-reading and brain-based lie detection, to how the brain’s changes over our life course affect our capacities to make decisions. Continue reading »

Working group to study pain & the brain

Beginning in summer 2014, as part of a venture into pain & suffering as an ongoing program area, CLBB convened a faculty pain & suffering working group to bring together faculty experts in pain, emotion, and the law to explore the complex intersection of the neuroscience and ethics of pain and suffering and its implications for civil and criminal law. The groups, drawing from the Harvard Law and Medical Schools, will convene for ongoing expert faculty meetings, academic publications, and a public seminar event. The group is supported by the Harvard Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative. View the initial announcement here.

CLBB Faculty and working group members include pain imaging specialist David Borsook, PhD, legal scholar of chronic pain Amanda Pustilnik, JD (Pustilnik is also the 2014-2015 Senior Fellow in Law & Applied Neuroscience at CLBB and The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School, with a focus on pain), and pain and emotion expert Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD.

The group culminated its first year with a public Symposium on Pain & Suffering on Thursday, February 5, 2015. The Symposium took place at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center of Harvard Medical School. View event video.