News and Commentary Archive

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


The Center for Law, Brain & Behavior puts the most accurate and actionable neuroscience in the hands of judges, lawyers, policymakers and journalists—people who shape the standards and practices of our legal system and affect its impact on people’s lives. We work to make the legal system more effective and more just for all those affected by the law.

MA state lawmaker urges action on elder abuse

By Jenifer McKim | New England Center for Investigate Reporting | October 31, 2014

A state lawmaker is urging Bay State officials to do more to help the growing number of exploited and abused elders in Massachusetts.

Rep. James O’ Day, a Worcester Democrat and chair of the House Elder Affairs Committee, said colleagues should act on a recent state report that documented the rising risks to seniors, especially financial exploitation suffered by women who are 80 years old and older.

The report, by the 19-member Elder Protective Services Commission, laid out a blueprint to help seniors, including better training of people who work with elders and an awareness campaign to educate the public about the potential for abuse. Continue reading »

MCLE announces the creation of the Hon. Nancy Gertner Scholarship Fund

Congratulations to Nancy Gertner, CLBB faculty, for a scholarship established in her name by Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc. From the press release:

“Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education, Inc. (MCLE) is pleased to announce the establishment of the Honorable Nancy Gertner Scholarship Fund to honor an outstanding member of the legal community whose life and work as a lawyer, jurist, and teacher exemplify the best of our profession’s rich legal heritage. MCLE is grateful to the committee of close friends and colleagues of Judge Gertner who joined together to help launch this scholarship fund in her honor: Continue reading »

Ventromedial prefrontal cortex supports affective future simulation by integrating distributed knowledge

By Roland Beniot, Karl Szpunar, and Daniel Schacter | PNAS | October 2014

Although the future often seems intangible, we can make it more concrete by imagining prospective events. Here, using functional MRI, we demonstrate a mechanism by which the ventromedial prefrontal cortex supports such episodic simulations, and thereby contributes to affective foresight: This region supports processes that (i) integrate knowledge related to the elements that constitute an episode and (ii) represent the episode’s emergent affective quality. The ventromedial prefrontal cortex achieves such integration via interactions with distributed cortical regions that process the individual elements. Its activation then signals the affective quality of the ensuing episode, which goes beyond the combined affective quality of its constituting elements. The integrative process further augments long-term retention of the episode, making it available at later time points. This mechanism thus renders the future tangible, providing a basis for farsighted behavior.

Read the full paper on PNAS.

MacArthur Foundation highlights CLBB Juvenile Justice Initiative

The MacArthur Foundation, a leading catalyst for juvenile justice reform, featured the CLBB Juvenile Justice working group and upcoming symposium on its website:

The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain & Behavior has convened a juvenile justice working group to explore the intersection of juvenile justice and the adolescent brain. The working group seeks to promote neuro-scientific research that elucidates the adolescent brain and to realize changes in juvenile law and treatment that reflect the work of the MacArthur Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice, the Foundation’s Models for Change juvenile justice reform initiative, and other such efforts. The group’s work will be featured in a public symposium on March 12, 2015. 

See the announcement on the MacArthur site.

Snake in the grass

By Daniel N. Jones | Aeon Magazine | October 20, 2014

It’s the friend who betrays you, the lover living a secret life, the job applicant with the fabricated résumé, or the sham sales pitch too good to resist. From the time humans learnt to co‑operate, we also learnt to deceive each other. For deception to be effective, individuals must hide their true intentions. But deception is hardly limited to humans. There is a never-ending arms race between the deceiver and the deceived among most living things. By studying different patterns of deception across the species, we can learn to better defend ourselves from dishonesty in the human world. Continue reading »