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

Hank Greely: Neuroimaging, Mindreading, and the Courts

Neuroimaging is making subjective mental states, like physical and emotional pain, visible and verifiable. How much should the law change with this new insight into the mind? Professor Hank Greely of the Stanford School of Law shares an optimistic yet cautious exploration of these cutting-edge issues in law & neuroscience. Dr. Greely is Director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences and former Co-director of the MacArthur Foundation Law and Neuroscience Project.

The talk was delivered as the Stuart Rome Lecture during the conference “Imaging the Brain, Changing Minds: Chronic Pain Neuroimaging and the Law,” at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law on April 24, 2014, presented in part by the Law & Health Care Program.

Reading Pain in a Human Face

By Jan Hoffman | The New York Times | April 28, 2014

In the image above, can you tell which expressions show real pain and which ones are feigned? A study found that human observers had no better than a 55 percent rate of success, even with training, while a computer was accurate about 85 percent of the time. (The answers: A. Fake. B. Real. C. Real.)

How well can computers interact with humans? Certainly computers play a mean game of chess, which requires strategy and logic, and “Jeopardy!,” in which they must process language to understand the clues read by Alex Trebek (and buzz in with the correct question).

But in recent years, scientists have striven for an even more complex goal: programming computers to read human facial expressions.

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Quiz: Are These People in Real Pain or Just Faking It? We all know what it’s like to experience pain that makes our faces twist into a grimace. But can you tell if someone else’s face of pain is real or feigned?

The practical applications could be profound. Computers could supplement or even replace lie detectors. They could be installed at border crossings and airport security checks. They could serve as diagnostic aids for doctors.

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have written software that not only detected whether a person’s face revealed genuine or faked pain, but did so far more accurately than human observers.

While other scientists have already refined a computer’s ability to identify nuances of smiles and grimaces, this may be the first time a computer has triumphed over humans at reading their own species. Continue reading »

At Airports, a Misplaced Faith in Body Language

Interactive Feature | Can You Spot the Liar? Subjects in a study on body language and lying were asked several general questions — and then told off camera to lie or tell the truth when answering. Can you tell truth from falsehood?

Interactive Feature | Can You Spot the Liar? Subjects in a study on body language and lying were asked several general questions — and then told off camera to lie or tell the truth when answering. Can you tell truth from falsehood?

Like the rest of us, airport security screeners like to think they can read body language. The Transportation Security Administration has spent some $1 billion training thousands of “behavior detection officers” to look for facial expressions and other nonverbal clues that would identify terrorists.

But critics say there’s no evidence that these efforts have stopped a single terrorist or accomplished much beyond inconveniencing tens of thousands of passengers a year. The T.S.A. seems to have fallen for a classic form of self-deception: the belief that you can read liars’ minds by watching their bodies.

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Neuroscience in the Courtroom – Dispatch from APLS 2014

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The American Psychology-Law Society (APLS; Division 41 of the American PsychologicalAssociation) met for its annual conference from March 6-8, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana. The conference unites North American forensic psychologists, graduate students, legal scholars, and academics in celebrating empirical advances in the field of psychology and law over the last year. This year was no different, especially in city ablaze in joyous celebration of Mardi Gras two days prior. Of particular interest this year were a number of presentations exploring neuroscientific research and implications for psychology and law, including a plenary session, CLBB-led panel, and paper presentation on juror decision-making.

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Watch: “The Measure of Truth and Deception: Three Perspectives”

event post iconOn January 21, 2010, the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior led a conversation among three experts on deception to discuss the past and future of lie detection, and how neuroscience might (or might not) contribute to a better way to tell truth from deception. Continue reading »