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.

WATCH – January 23, 2015 – “Translation 2.0: A Forum on Transforming Public Understanding of Science”

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The gap between the scientific community and the public is widening.  Whether considering climate change or mental health, policymakers and gatekeepers of the legal system routinely mischaracterize scientific consensus, with potentially devastating consequences for the moral health of our society and our collective future. It’s never been more crucial to examine how public understanding of science can be transformed – through better storytelling, deeper dialogue among disciplines, and the simple art of persuasion – and also how science can be better informed (and guided) by the ongoing needs of society.

On Friday, January 23, 2015 at the Norton’s Woods Conference Center of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in Cambridge, CLBB presented “Translation 2.0: A Forum on Transforming Public Understanding of Science.”  Leading thinkers from science, the law, and journalism discussed the art of persuasion (F. Lee Bailey), the successful OpEd (Nancy Gertner), writing a sophisticated science story (Carey Goldberg), new models for disrupting public opinion (Jeff Howe), and why science needs storytelling (Jordan Smoller).  Remarks from each speaker were followed by a lively discussion among all attendees around how both scientists and journalists – as well as the public at large – can do more to speak each other’s languages and address key consensus issues. Continue reading »

WATCH – “Psychosis vs. Psychopathy: Navigating the Risk of Violence in the Clinic and Courtroom”

Click to view event poster.

Click to view event poster.

A delusional episode, or a personality disorder distinguished by lack of empathy, remorse, and inhibition? Psychosis and psychopathy are two distinct diagnoses whose risk of violence is often confused or conflated.

On Thursday, February 19, 2015, CLBB presented a McLean Hospital Grand Rounds titled “Psychosis vs. Psychopathy: Navigating the Risk of Violence in the Clinical and Courtroom.” Clinical and legal experts used case-study to distinguish the on-set, pathophysiology, symptoms and effective interventions for each diagnosis, and characterize the risk of violence.

This Grand Rounds presented case studies and discussion by Joseph Stoklosa, MD, medical director for McLean’s schizophrenia and bipolar program; Judge Roanne Sragow, first justice for the Cambridge District Court; Larry Seidman, MD, neuropsychologist and expert on early psychosis; and CLBB co-director Bruce Price, MD, McLean Chief of Neurology. CLBB co-director Judith Edersheim, JD, MD, forensic psychiatrist, served as moderator.

The Grand Rounds took place from 12-1pm in Pierce Hall, inside the Service Building, at McLean Hospital.

Watch video of the entire “Psychosis vs. Psychopathy” event below, or explore past events on juvenile justice, pain, memory, and criminal responsibility, on CLBB’s Vimeo channel.

WATCH – “Found in Translation: Why Science Needs Storytelling (and Vice Versa) – an Evening with Malcolm Gladwell”

Click to view event poster.

Click to view event poster.

On Thursday, January 8, 2015 at Peterson Hall in New York City, CLBB presented “Why Science Needs Storytelling (and Vice Versa), – an Evening with Malcolm Gladwell,” a conversation between The New Yorker author and Harvard psychiatric geneticist Jordan Smoller, MD, ScD. The two thinkers discussed the difficulties of translating scientific research for general-audience publications, the gap between scientific consensus and public understanding, how storytelling can help, and why it’s more crucial than ever.

Malcolm Gladwell is the author of five New York Times bestsellers — The Tipping Point, Blink, Outliers, What the Dog Saw, and David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants. He has been named one of the 100 most influential people by TIME magazine and one of the Foreign Policy’s Top Global Thinkers. Gladwell has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996. He has won a national magazine award and been honored by the American Psychological Society and the American Sociological Society. He was previously a reporter for The Washington Post. Continue reading »

WATCH – Imaging Brains, Changing Minds: How Pain Neuroimaging Can Help Transform the Law

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Click to view event poster.

On Thursday, January 22, 2015, CLBB Senior Fellow in Law & Applied Neuroscience Amanda Pustilnik presented the Psychiatry Grand Rounds at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). Pustilnik reviewed her research at the intersection of pain and the law in a talk titled “Imaging Brains, Changing Minds: How Pain Neuroimaging Can Help Transform the Law.” Continue reading »

When Frontotemporal Dementia Leads to Crime—Prosecution or Protection?

By Jessica Shugart | Alz Forum | January 13, 2015

For some, it starts with stealing candy. For others, it’s a reckless car crash, or a sudden penchant to urinate in public. The type of incident varies, but according to a study published January 5 in JAMA Neurology, more than a third of people with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) act out criminal behaviors. In some cases, the odd conduct is the first clear signal to their loved ones that something is way off. Led by Bruce Miller at the University of California, San Francisco, the study also reported bad behavior in people with Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases; however, those patients’ misconduct tended to surface later in the disease and to a lesser degree than it did in people with FTD. The study raises questions about how the criminal justice system should handle people with FTD and, even more pressingly, concerns about the plight of undiagnosed patients who may be languishing in prisons or on the streets. Continue reading »