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.

‘I’m extremely controversial’: the psychologist rethinking human emotion

The Guardian | September 25, 2020

CLBB Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett is featured in this article for her pathbreaking work on how the emotions and the brain.

Highlight: “Barrett argues that the universal components of human experience are not emotions, but changes on a continuum of arousal on the one hand, and pleasantness and unpleasantness on the other. The term for this is “affect”. It is a basic feature of consciousness, and people in different cultures learn to mold this raw material into emotional experiences in different ways. So you can have high arousal and high pleasantness, and your brain might construct ‘ecstasy’, or low arousal and high unpleasantness and you might create ‘misery’.”

Read the full article here.

Full of fear, but fun … riding a rollercoaster in Domodedovo, Russia. Photograph: Gavriil Grigorov/Tass

Eliot Spitzer was born and raised in New York. He graduated from the Horace Mann School, Princeton University, and Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. After clerking for Federal District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet, Spitzer practiced at Paul, Weiss and then joined the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.  While there he rose to serve as Chief of the Labor Racketeering Unit and successfully prosecuted some of the most senior members of the Gambino organized crime family.  After several years in private practice, he was elected Attorney General of New York in 1998 and was re-elected in 2002.  His prosecutions in the areas of financial fraud, environmental protection and civil rights set a new standard for law enforcement, and in 2002 Time Magazine named him “Crusader of the Year.”  60 Minutes dubbed him the “Sheriff of Wall Street,” and the Financial Times named him “Man of the Year.”  He was elected Governor of New York in 2006.  His Administration restructured New York’s educational and healthcare finance systems.  Since 2008, he has served as an anchor on CNN’s prime time show ‘In the Arena,” hosted “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer” on Current TV, taught as a professor at CCNY and been a regular contributor to Slate Magazine.  He now runs Spitzer Enterprises, a real estate development firm founded by his father.   

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William Pietragallo, II, is a Founding Partner of Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti, LLP. Recognized as an accomplished trial attorney, he is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and a Diplomat of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.

Mr. Pietragallo has the good fortune of a career supported by great clients and stimulating cases. He has achieved over 100 successful civil jury trial verdicts in lawsuits ranging from airline disasters, product liability, professional negligence, to antitrust and corporate takeover. While it would be indiscreet to identify all of the companies that he has represented, suffice to say they have included some of the largest corporations in the world and certain local entrepreneurial businesses. He has been awarded the “Lawyer of the Year” award by Best Lawyers for Bet-the-Company Litigation. He has also been recognized by Chambers & Partners as “highly recommended.” Mr. Pietragallo was selected as Best Lawyers’ Pittsburgh Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants “Lawyer of the Year.” For 25 consecutive years, he has been listed in Best Lawyers in America©. He is a  Pennsylvania Super Lawyer, and was listed by The BTI Consulting Group as one of 113 lawyers nationally who have been designated by Fortune 1000 companies as providing “superior client service.”

His recent trial calendar includes the defense of a significant antitrust case, litigation over the control over a major foundation, and an international trade secret misappropriation case.

However, his proudest accomplishment is the group of younger lawyers who have and will follow him into the courtroom, and who have gained the respect and esteem of the law firm’s many clients. They are his legal legacy, and the enduring strength of the law firm.

Mr. Pietragallo is a past chairman of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and before that a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Civil Rules Committee.

Mr. Pietragallo served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, teaching Litigation Planning and Strategy. In addition, the University of Pittsburgh School of Law named Mr. Pietragallo a “Distinguished Alumni” for his exceptional service to the Law School and to the legal community in 2012.

Active in community service, Mr. Pietragallo continues to serve as the Chairman of the Board of UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital of Pittsburgh and recently received the Spirit of St. Anthony Award for promoting philanthropy and a culture of giving and volunteerism. Mr. Pietragallo also serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Harvard University and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.

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Raluca Buttner graduated from MIT in 1996 with a Chemical Engineering major and Film Studies concentration.  Upon graduation, she worked at Merck’s Westpoint, PA location in the vaccine manufacturing division followed by their research division.  While deeply appreciative of the learning gained from her college and professional experiences, her love of art and design has always been strong and led her to pursue a career change, moving to a web management and design position at Thomson Financial (TF) in Boston, after a year away in Melbourne, Australia.

After several years at TF, and a summer term at the Berklee School of Music, Raluca’s desire for a more flexible schedule that would enable her to pursue her artistic and musical passions led her to work with her future husband, Ned Buttner, a researcher at Harvard University at the time, helping him with figures, writing, research and statistics for his scientific publications. 

Ned and Raluca were married in 2006, and had a beautiful life together, with their 3 beloved children, until his passing in 2015.  Today, Raluca’s life is full of music and art, and the happiness of continuing to raise her children.  She contributes creatively to the Waldorf School of Lexington whenever possible, which all of her children attend, and perform and sing with the Rolling Gnomes, a rock/jazz band created by several Waldorf school parents.

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Robert R. Hopper is the Founder and Managing Partner of Robert R. Hopper & Associates LLC, a professional law firm he founded in 1978 based in Minneapolis, MN. Through his law firm, he has enjoyed diverse and rewarding practice as a trial lawyer, litigating and negotiating in both federal and state courts; working in corporate public affairs; and as a lobbyist – lobbying Congress and the Executive Branch, including various agencies of the federal and state governments; as an advisor and counselor to business; and, as an advisor in strategic communications and media relations. In these varied roles, Mr. Hopper’s 41 years of professional experience, with 33 years in private practice as a lawyer, focuses on varied areas of practice.

As an experienced practitioner in each of the areas of law, politics and media, Mr. Hopper emphasizes the importance of integration between them. This philosophy and practice is based on a view that most legal problems and dilemmas facing individual and corporate clients alike, often require strategies which are concomitantly effective in both the courtroom and the court of public opinion, and when necessary, in the political and public policy arena. These strategies require thoughtful and persuasive communication to advocate a client’s interest or to creatively tell their stories. When litigation has ended or possibly been avoided and when negotiation is required, strategic communication is also imperative to ensure a desired outcome or resolution. Integrating these honed skills in all of these areas defines the uniqueness of Mr. Hopper’s practice and evinces the depth and breadth of Robert R. Hopper & Associates, L.L.C. as a firm.

Mr. Hopper has been involved in several high-profile cases. In this capacity, he has often represented clients when “crisis management” is necessary. By offering all of these skillsets simultaneously, Mr. Hopper may serve as a spokesperson and advisor in media relations, as an advocate in the courtroom and counselor at law, and as a lobbyist – all to assist clients in navigating through the crisis.

For the past ten years, Mr. Hopper has placed considerable focus in his practice on Law & Neuroscience, litigating traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury cases, handling various legal matters implicated by brain tumors and brain injuries, representing clients with neurodegenerative disease, involving the aging brain, and representing clients in legal matters involving the adolescent, developing brain.

Through his  33-year legal career, Mr. Hopper has practiced in complex litigation and class actions, including the national tobacco litigation, the largest case in U.S. history, reaching a settlement of $247B. He also worked on many of the largest mass tort, defective drug and defective medical device cases, antitrust cases, and environmental toxic tort cases.  In addition to his work as a trial lawyer, Mr. Hopper has also had a long career working in Washington, DC in federal government relations. 

Mr. Hopper’s cases have been featured on Court TV and other major national and local media. In that regard, he has been interviewed and appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC’s 20-20, The CBS Early Show, CNN, CNBC, Larry King Live, The Dan Abrams Show, FOX TV, On The Record with Greta Van Susteren, National Public Radio, and he has been featured in numerous local media in the Twin Cities.

For nearly 40 years, Mr. Hopper has fought for civil rights and social justice in Harlem and the South Bronx in NYC, Atlanta and in Minneapolis|St Paul; represented diverse populations, ethnic minorities and people of color in class actions such as in the landmark Metro Gang Strike Force case; and, fought for the rights of all people who have been wrongfully injured or killed, including those with traumatic brain injury, paralysis due to spinal cord injury and those who have become affected by brain cancer, brain tumors and neurodegenerative diseases.

Mr. Hopper is a member of the faculty, as Adjunct Faculty, at the University of Minnesota Law School, teaching Law and Neuroscience.  He has lectured extensively on this subject as Adjunct Faculty at the University of Tennessee College of Law and at the Haslam College of Business and the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, both at the University of Tennessee.


  • William Mitchell, Excellence in Trial Advocacy Award
  • University of Tennessee, Distinguished Alumni Award
  • Martindale Hubbell, AV rated for over 25 years
  • 2019 Minnesota Icon Award for “Distinctive Excellence” in the practice of Law – Minnesota Lawyer & Finance and Commerce

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