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 – “A Dialogue on Agency, Responsibility, and the Brain – with Stephen Morse”

Click to view event poster

Click to view event poster

On Thursday, February 12, 2015, guest speaker Professor Stephen J. Morse, JD, PhD, former MacArthur Foundation Law & Neuroscience Project co-Chair and co-Director of the Center for Neuroscience and Society and CLBB Faculty members Judge Nancy A. Gertner and Professor Amanda C. Pustilnik participated in a lunchtime conversation about how – or whether – new knowledge about the brain is changing legal concepts of agency and responsibility.

The event was at Wasserstein Hall, at Harvard Law School.

smorseStephen J. Morse is the Ferdinand Wakeman Hubbell Professor of Law; Professor of Psychology and Law in Psychiatry; and Associate Director, Center for Neuroscience & Society at the University of Pennsylvania. Morse works on problems of individual responsibility and agency. Morse was Co-Director of the MacArthur Foundation Law and Neuroscience Project. Morse is a Diplomate in Forensic Psychology of the American Board of Professional Psychology; a past president of Division 41 of the American Psychological Association; a recipient of the American Academy of Forensic Psychology’s Distinguished Contribution Award; a member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Mental Health and Law; and a trustee of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.

Judge Nancy A. Gertner is Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School and a former federal judge. She was appointed to the bench in 1994 by President Clinton. She has been an instructor at Yale Law School, teaching sentencing and comparative sentencing institutions, since 1998. In 2014, she was selected as one of five recipients of the 2014 Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, established by the ABA Commission on the Status of Women in the Profession, for accomplishments in the field and inspiration to other women. She has published In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate (2011)The Law of Juries (1997), and many articles, and chapters on sentencing, discrimination, and forensic evidence, women’s rights, and the jury system.


Amanda C. Pustilnik, JD is Associate Professor of Law at the University of Maryland School of Law and a faculty member of the MGH Center for Law, Brain & Behavior. She is also the 2014-2015 Senior Fellow in Law & Applied Neuroscience at CLBB and The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.  Her work explores the interrelationship between normative and scientific concepts of mind and brain in areas including evidence law, criminal law, and disability.

This conversation is part of the Joint Venture in Law & Applied Neuroscience between CLBB and the Petrie-Flom Center for Bioethics of Harvard Law School. Amanda Pustilnik is the Joint Venture’s 2014-2015 Senior Fellow in Law & Applied Neuroscience.

Watch the “Dialogue” event below, or explore past events on memory, free will, and empathy on CLBB’s Vimeo channel.