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.

Scientists Discover Off-Switch for Pain in the Brain

Inquisitr | November 30, 2014

Researchers at St. Louis University have made a promising breakthrough in the field of pain management that could help millions of patients who suffer with chronic pain.

Chronic pain is the leading cause of disability in the United States, reports Medical News Today, affecting more people than cancer, diabetes, and heart disease combined.

According to a study released in the medical journal, Brain, the research team, led by professor of pharmacological and physiological sciences Daniela Salvemini, has found a way to block a pain pathway in the brain of rodents using a receptor called A3. The discovery could mean relief from pain without the adverse side effects of opiate pain killers. Continue reading »

The selective allure of neuroscience and its implications for the courtroom

In “The selective allure of neuroscience and its implications for the courtroom,” a recent feature on The Jury Expert, Adam Shniderman wrote about two recent studies done to examine the reasoning, discrediting tendencies, and preexisting beliefs that inform in lay evaluations of neuroscience. These studies, done by Shniderman and Nicholas Schurich (2014) were conducted on two highly politically and emotionally charged issues – the death penalty and abortion. They concluded that “the biggest determinant of the impact of neuroscientific information on an individual appears to be the individual’s prior attitude about the topic. Thus, neuroscience appears to have a selective, rather than a universally seductive, allure.”

CLBB Forensic Psychiatry Research Fellow Ekaterina Pivovarova submitted an invited response to the piece. Read her response here, or on the site. Continue reading »

Steve Hyman assumes Presidency of Society for Neuroscience

Hyman_150x150Congratulations to Steven Hyman, MD, who became President of the Society for Neuroscience, the world’s largest organization of brain and nervous system scientists and physicians, at the Society’s annual meeting, on November 19, 2014, in Washington, DC.

Steven E. Hyman is former provost and Distinguished Service Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University. A 1980 graduate of Harvard Medical School, Hyman pursued basic neurobiological research, focusing on drug addiction and the molecular origins of mental illness. By 1994, he became the first faculty director of Harvard University’s Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative, a multidisciplinary effort to study how nervous system disease relates to human behavior. Shortly thereafter, the director of the National Institutes of Health recruited Hyman to lead the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). But in 2001, Hyman left the NIMH to become the University’s provost, a position he held until 2011.

A faculty member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, and director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Hyman’s career has been a rare combination of neuroscience and academic leadership.

Dr. Hyman was elected President-elect last year, and will hold the role for 2014-2015. He took over from past President Carol Mason, and Hollis Cline was voted President-elect.


Creating Pain-Sensing Neurons

By BD Colen | Harvard Gazette | November 24, 2014

After more than six years of intensive effort, including repeated failures that at times made the quest seem futile, Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) and at Harvard’s Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology (HSCRB) have successfully converted mouse and human skin cells into pain-sensing neurons that respond to a number of stimuli that cause acute and inflammatory distress. Continue reading »

Video: Steven Pinker: “The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century”

On Thursday, November 20, 2014, at the Bornstein Amphitheater at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, CLBB and the Boston Society for Neurology and Psychiatry co-sponsored a talk by Steven Pinker, renowned Harvard cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular author, to discuss his most recent book, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. Video of the event is included below in its entirety and at our Vimeo page. Continue reading »