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

Dr. Rebecca Brendel on What Happens During Hospitalizations For Mental Health Issues

CLBB Director of Bioethics Dr. Rebecca Brendel spoke with WBUR’s Morning Edition to talk about the process that occurs when someone is hospitalized for mental health issues. Dr. Brendel, also director of the master’s program in bioethics and an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, commented,

“What the evaluators in the emergency room really would be looking for would be symptoms consistent or supporting a risk of harm…and has the individual taken steps toward the plan to actually harm themselves or harm somebody else?”

Listen to the entire segment below, or go to WBUR for more on the interview.

Judge Nancy Gertner Reflects On Mandatory Minimums

CLBB Facugertner_150x150lty Member Nancy Gertner appeared on WBUR to discuss her efforts to fix the system of mass incarceration that forced her to put hundreds of men and women behind bars, during her 17-year judicial career. In conversation with host Meghna Chakrabarti, Judge Gertner notes:

“The irony is, I’m going through all my sentences — hundreds of men, largely men that I sentenced — and I’m mostly dealing with mandatory minimums, because, candidly…I went as low as I could go in all of these cases. And now we’re dealing with people who just got stuck in, really, a nightmare sentencing structure.”

Listen to WBUR’s radio broadcast from November 13, 2015 here.

Listen: Dr. Edersheim on WBUR on Brain Science in the Tsarnaev Trial

As jury selection for the long-anticipated trial of the Boston Marathon bomber is underway, there is much speculation about how brain science will be used by the defense team of Dzokhar Tsarnaev, who was 19 years old when he committed the alleged bombing. CLBB Co-Director Judith Edersheim, a forensic psychiatrist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, discussed the use of brain science in the Tsarnaev trial with WBUR’s Lisa Mullins and adolescence expert and Professor of Psychology at Temple University Laurence Steinberg on Radio Boston on Monday, January 12.

Listen to the discussion below, or on Radio Boston.

Also, read Dr. Edersheim’s commentary on the Tsarnaev trial on WBUR’s CommonHealth.

WATCH: CLBB’s study on brain stimulation and decision-making

By Carey Goldberg | WBUR CommonHealth | August 7, 2014
(part of the Brain Matters series)

The final installment of WBUR’s Brain Matters series featured work from two CLBB faculty, Joshua Buckholtz and Joshua Greene. The tDCS research by Buckholtz discussed below was made possible through a grant from CLBB’s Law and Neuroscience Pilot Fund program, which supports scientists to engage in innovative research at the interface of neuroscience and the law.

Harvard brain scientist Joshua Buckholtz has never forgotten a convict he met back when he was an undergrad conducting psychological tests in prisons. The man had beaten another man nearly to death for stepping on his foot in a dance club.

“I wanted to ask him,” he recalls, “‘In what world was the reward of beating this person so severely, for this — to me — minor infraction, worth having terrible food and barbed wire around you?’ ”

But over the years, Buckholtz became convinced that this bad deed was a result of faulty brain processing, perhaps in a circuit called the frontostriatal dopamine system. In an impulsive person’s brain, he says, attention just gets so narrowly focused on an immediate reward that, in effect, the future disappears. Continue reading »

Brain Matters: Reporting from the Front Lines of Neuroscience

During summer 2014, WBUR ran a special series on the current state, potential, and limitations of neuroscience. The series covered:

Part 1: Are we entering a golden age of neuroscience?

Brain Images: New Techniques And Bright Colors
5 Ways The Brain Stymies Scientists And 5 New Tools To Crack It, an interview with CLBB Faculty member Steve Hyman
Unlocking The Brain: Are We Entering A Golden Age Of Neuroscience?
11 Young Neuroscientists Share Their Cutting-Edge Research
Continue reading »