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.

When the Science Says Children But the Law Says Adults: Trying and Sentencing Youth as Adults

April 4, 2023, 12:30 PM ET

Watch the recording here!

All 50 states have transfer laws that either allow or require children to be prosecuted in adult criminal court for certain offenses. Attorney Marsha Levick, Esq. provided an overview of the transfer law legal landscape and potential legal challenges to transfer laws. Neuroscientist BJ Casey, Ph.D. spoke about the science of adolescence and explore whether there is a neuroscientific basis for transfer laws as an effective deterrent to delinquency and consistent with rehabilitation. Stephanie Tabashneck, PsyD, JD then led a discussion on the role science can play in challenges to transfer laws.


Introduction: Carmel Shachar, Executive Director, Petrie-Flom Center

BJ Casey, Ph.D. Christina L. Williams Professor of Neuroscience, Department of Neuroscience and Behavior, Barnard College, Columbia University and The Justice Collaboratory, Yale Law School

Marsha Levick, J.D., Chief Legal Officer and Co-Founder, Juvenile Law Center and Adjunct Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Stephanie Tabashneck, Psy.D., J.D., Senior Fellow in Law and Applied Neuroscience, CLBB and the Petrie-Flom Center

Blaming the Brain: Criminal Responsibility, Addiction, and Neuroscience

February 28, 2023, 11:00 AM ET

Watch the recording here!

Advances in neuroscience have challenged core concepts of personal volition, agency and accountability. This webinar examined criminal responsibility in light of neuroscience models of addiction, psychiatric illness, decision-making, and volition. Webinar leaders from the University of Maastricht, University of Groningen, and the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard Medical School) discussed comparative law approaches (European and American) to criminal responsibility and the extent to which these approaches do – or should – reflect current and emerging neuroscience findings. This webinar was presented in anticipation of coursework offered by UNITAR during Fall 2023 leading to an Executive Diploma on Law and Neuroscience – A Comparative Approach.


Dr. David Roef is an associate professor in criminal law and an extraordinary professor of criminal law and neuroscience at Maastricht University ( His main fields of research and education are comparative criminal law, criminal policy, and neurolaw. He is also the co-founder of the interfaculty minor ‘human and legal decision making’ at Maastricht University, and board member of the Research Network for Law and Cognitive Sciences (LACS Recently he co-authored the handbook Comparative Concepts of Criminal Law (2019, Intersentia), and is involved in research projects on addiction and prior fault, and legal aspects of direct brain intervention.

Dr. Anna Goldberg is an assistant professor of criminal law at the University of Groningen. Between 2017-2021 she conducted her PhD research at Maastricht University in which she addressed addiction in criminal law, with a specific focus on the effects and role of neuroscience in this assessment. Interdisciplinary by default, her PhD research made use of a range of research methods including legal comparative designs, normative research, as well as qualitative and quantitative empirical research.

Dr. Robert Kinscherff is a clinical/forensic psychologist and attorney serving as Executive Director of the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior (CLBB) at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School. Core CLBB areas include applications of neuroscience and behavioral sciences to criminal law, elder law, juvenile and emerging adult justice, and refugee/asylum law. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and has held leadership positions in government and clinical care systems. His practice areas include youthful and adult violent offenders with mental disorders, ethics and law in forensic behavioral health practice, and developmental interactions of adversity, trauma, and resilience. Dr. Kinscherff teaches/consults in the US and internationally for government entities, judges and attorneys, policymakers, medical and behavioral health professionals, and personnel in child protection, juvenile justice, and adult criminal justice and corrections roles.

Dr. Judith Edersheim is Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Edersheim graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University and attended law school at Harvard, where she graduated cum laude. She was a law clerk to the Honorable Robert W. Sweet, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York, and practiced law before returning to Harvard Medical School. She was a medical intern at the Mount Auburn Hospital and received her clinical psychiatry training at the Cambridge Hospital adult psychiatry residency program. Dr. Edersheim completed a fellowship in the Law and Psychiatry service at MGH. She is a member of the Bar of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is licensed to practice medicine in Massachusetts, and is Board Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, with added qualifications in Forensic Psychiatry.

When Punishment Meets Penance: The Neuroscience and Practices of Solitary Confinement

November 3, 2022, 12:00 – 1:00 PM ET

On November 3rd, Dr. Joel Dvoskin and Dr. Adam Haar Horowitz presented on the neuroscience of solitary confinement and its current uses and abuses in the American correctional system.


Joel Dvoskin, PhD
Dr. Joel Dvoskin is a clinical and forensic psychologist, licensed in Arizona and New Mexico and certified in Forensic Psychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology.
He served as Chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Behavior Health and Wellness for the State of Nevada. He is the former Acting Commissioner of Mental Health for the State of NY, after serving for more than a decade as Associate Commissioner and Director for Forensic Services for the NY State Office of Mental Health.
Dr. Dvoskin is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), and Past President of two APA Divisions, including the American Psychology-Law Society and Psychologists in Public Service. He served on the APA Policy Task Force on Reducing Gun Violence, and on the APA Blue Ribbon Commission on Ethics Processes.

Adam Haar Horowitz, PhD works to translate brain science into experiences and interventions, with a focus on sleep and dreams. He is a co-inventor of the Dormio device and Targeted Dream Incubation technique, which facilitate control of dream content. At the moment he is building tools for nightmare treatment with psychiatrists at the US Dept of Veterans Affairs, and co-organizing MIT’s Dream Engineering Symposium focused on scientific ethics and education. He’s proud to serve on the board of the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior, on the Selection Committee for the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology, and on the Sounding Board of Boston’s NPR. Adam has a background in research at Harvard metaLAB and MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research. His work has been presented in Nature, Science, National Academy of Sciences, GoogleX, 60 Minutes and the World Economic Forum. Adam received his PhD from MIT, working between the MIT Media Lab and the Harvard Medical School Center for Sleep and Cognition.

Life Sentences for Children?: The Neuroscientific Basis for Limitations on Harsh Sentencing

October 27, 2022, 12:00 PM

Register for this Event

Abstract Head and brain from lines and triangles, point connecting network on blue background.

Online viewing

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this panel discussion will be held virtually, as an online webinar. To ensure that you will receive access to the livestream and be kept up to date on any changes to the event, register now. We will send out a link to the livestream of the event to all registrants the day before and day of the event. Last registration is 11:30am on the day of the event. 

Event Description

Neuroscience is playing a key role in legal decisions about children and young adults serving life sentences. The US Supreme Court relied upon research on adolescent brain development to bar execution and limit sentences of Life Without Possibility of Parole for crimes committed under age 18. However, the U.S. Supreme Court case Jones v. Mississippi (2021) shifted the battleground from federal constitutional protections to protections afforded by state constitutions—with mixed results to date. This panel examines the latest neuroscience in the context of emerging case law.


  • Introduction: Carmel Shachar, Executive Director, Petrie-Flom Center
  • Leah Somerville, Professor of Psychology and Director, Affective Neuroscience and Development Laboratory, Harvard University
  • Stephanie Tabashneck, PsyD, JD, Senior Fellow in Law and Applied Neuroscience, CLBB and the Petrie-Flom Center

This event is part of the Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience, a collaboration between the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.

CLBB Spring 2022 Events Highlights

The Center for Law, Brain and Behavior presents a variety of lectures and events each year, along with those in collaboration with the Petrie-Flom Center at Harvard Law School and the Boston Society of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. This Spring 2022, CLBB presented seven events on topics including addiction, juvenile justice and the courts, and elder fraud and abuse.

See the video HERE.

Please see the time stamps below corresponding to the highlights for each event:

Neuroscience and Criminal Law | February 9, 2022 | 00:15

Families, Substance Use Disorder, and the Courts | February 22, 2022 | 04:16

Dementia & the Law | March 5, 2022 | 08:01

Neuroscience in the Service of Justice | March 22, 2022 | 10:37

The Criminalization of Addiction | March 31, 2022 | 14:19

Cannabis and the Law | April 20, 2022 | 17:53