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

NFL Doctors Should Not Report to Teams, Harvard Study Recommends

This article highlights a recent report published by the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School, entitled, “Protecting and Promoting the Health of NFL Players: Legal and Ethical Analysis and Recommendations”

By Rick Maese | The Washington Post | November 17, 2016

A new report from Harvard University proposes drastic changes in the way health care is administered in the NFL, urging the nation’s most popular sports league to upend its system of medicine and untangle the loyalties of the doctors and trainers charged with treating players.

Asserting that the long-standing current structure has inherent conflicts of interest, the 493-page report outlines a new system in which a team’s medical staff is devoted solely to players’ interests and no longer reports to team management or coaches.

“The intersection of club doctors’ dual obligations creates significant legal and ethical quandaries that can threaten player health,” the report states. Continue reading »

WATCH – “From Troubled Teens to Tsarnaev: Promises and Perils of Adolescent Neuroscience and Law”

Click to enlarge poster.

Click to enlarge poster.

The neuroscience of adolescent brain development has had increasing impact on American jurisprudence. The U.S. Supreme Court relied on this neuroscience in Roper v. Simmons (2005) in barring execution for capital crimes committed as a juvenile and in Miller v. Alabama (2012) in holding that mandatory life without possibility of parole for juveniles is also unconstitutional.

On Monday, September 28, 2015, CLBB and the Petrie-Flom Center assembled a panel of developmental scientists, clinicians, and legal scholars for a panel discussion examining the implications of developmental neuroscience for law in specific domains including death penalty mitigation for young adults over age 18 such as the Tsarnaev case, a developmentally informed view of Miranda and Competence to Stand Trial for juveniles, trial of youth as adults, and conditions of confinement in juvenile and adult incarceration.

The panel discussed the promises and perils for constitutional jurisprudence, legal and public policy reform, and trial practice of relying upon a complex body of science as it emerges. Scroll down to view complete video from the event.

This event is part of the Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience, a collaboration between the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. 

Continue reading »

WATCH – “A Dialogue on Agency, Responsibility, and the Brain – with Stephen Morse”

Click to view event poster

Click to view event poster

On Thursday, February 12, 2015, guest speaker Professor Stephen J. Morse, JD, PhD, former MacArthur Foundation Law & Neuroscience Project co-Chair and co-Director of the Center for Neuroscience and Society and CLBB Faculty members Judge Nancy A. Gertner and Professor Amanda C. Pustilnik participated in a lunchtime conversation about how – or whether – new knowledge about the brain is changing legal concepts of agency and responsibility.

The event was at Wasserstein Hall, at Harvard Law School. 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 »

CLBB and Harvard Law School announce “Joint Venture in Law and Neuroscience;” Pain Fellow

306115_10150591296547062_163009943_nNeuroscience is rapidly increasing our understanding of human behavior. As our understanding grows, so should the law and policy which is concerned with these behaviors. New neuroscientific knowledge has many imminent implications for the legal realm, including questions of responsibility, memory, and the role of neuroscientific evidence in the courtroom.

With already-established programs in seminal areas at the intersection of law and neuroscience, including criminal responsibility, lie detection, financial decision making, and memory, CLBB looks forward to producing scholarship in a new program area, pain & suffering.

Beginning Fall 2014, CLBB and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School will launch a joint “Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience.” The collaboration, which will extend through 2016, will include a Senior Fellow-in-residence, research and public symposia devoted to a specific issue at the intersection of neuroscience and law, and a Law and Neuroscience Seminar taught at Harvard Law School by the Hon. Nancy Gertner. Amanda Pustilnik, JD will be the Project’s first Senior Fellow in Law & Applied Neuroscience, in 2014-2015, focusing on scholarship on the role of pain in legal domains.

Pustilnik is currently a Professor of Law at the University of Maryland School of Law and a CLBB faculty member. In Cambridge, Pustilnik will pursue research, mentoring, and public engagement related to issues of pain and the law. Pustilnik will also be involved in the execution of expert symposia and public events to promote focused discussion on questions at the intersection of pain, addictions, and the law.

Professor Nancy Gertner’s Law and Neuroscience Seminar will introduce students to this complex and growing translational field. The Hon. Gertner is a member of Harvard Law, Petrie-Flom, and CLBB Faculty. The course will be cross-listed for Harvard Medical School students, and will draw on HLS and CLBB’s interdisciplinary legal and scientific faculty.

For more on the Petrie-Flom Center, see their website and bioethics blog.

The press release is available here.