News and Commentary Archive

Explore recent scientific discoveries and news as well as CLBB events, commentary, and press.

Mission

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.

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 »

Watch: “Free Will: What Can Physiology Explain?”

While we may believe that we choose and direct our movements consciously, the physiology of human motor control provides compelling evidence that this sense of conscious decision – free will – is a perception only.

On Thursday, October 2, 2014, at the Bornstein Amphitheater at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, CLBB and the Boston Society for Neurology and Psychiatry co-sponsored an event exploring how an understanding of human motor control can contribute to the question of free will. Video of the event is included below in its entirety and at our Vimeo page. Continue reading »

Dispatch: “Neuro-interventions and the Law” Conference

Dr. Ekaterina Pivovarova

Dr. Ekaterina Pivovarova

On September 12-14, 2014, the Atlanta Neuroethics Consortium was held at Georgia State University. The topic, Neuro-Interventions and the Law: Regulating Human Mental Capacity, brought together leading scholars on philosophy, neuroscience, law, cognitive and clinical psychology, psychiatry, and bioethics. The participants included Judge Andre Davis, Nita Farahany, Stephen Morse, Francis Shen, Walter Sinnot-Armstrong, Nicole Vincent, and Paul Root Wolpe. The conference panels, talks, and keynotes addressed pressing issues about managing and appropriately utilizing novel neuroscientific technologies as they relate to legal issues. Continue reading »

CLBB is Hiring! Project Manager/Research Coordinator

The MGH Center for Law, Brain & Behavior is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for a full-time Project Manager / Research Coordinator. CLICK HERE TO APPLY

The Project Manager / Research Coordinator will play a critical role in facilitating the success of CLBB projects by providing substantive and administrative assistance to the Center’s Directors in all CLBB-related endeavors. Primary research functions are conducting research in law and neuroscience, including scientific literature reviews, original writing, and supporting Center-related materials such as briefs and scholarly articles. Key administrative functions involve web content management, grant proposal preparation, and event coordination, among a wide and varied range of duties that support the needs of the Center.


The start date for this position is January 1, 2023 (negotiable). Please submit a resume (with cumulative undergraduate GPA), cover letter, and transcript when applying.


Qualified applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree, with coursework or formal training in neuroscience, as well as expert administrative skills. Strong organizational and interpersonal skills are essential.


The Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior works at the vanguard of applied neuroscience: makingneuroscience is actionable for the legal community in order to ensure just and positive outcomesfor all those affected by the law. Though the brain and the law are both complex, our work is quite simple: helping judges, lawyers, case workers, enforcement agents, and many other actors across the legal ecosystem determine the right solutions for the right people and cases. We promote and enable the sound application of accurate neuroscience to critical areas of the legal process: criminal trials and sentencing, juvenile justice, elder protection, and immigration enforcement and asylum.


The deadline to apply is December 1, 2022. Applicants will be asked to interview on a rolling basis. More details about the directions for applying can be found on the MGH website posting by clicking below. Inquiries about this position can be directed to erehmet@mgh.harvard.edu.


APPLY HERE

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

November 3, 2022, 12:00 – 1:00 PM ET

Watch this online event here!


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.

PANELISTS:

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
Online

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.

Panelists

  • 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

CLBB Publishes “Justice for Emerging Adults after Jones” in the NYU Law Review

The Center for Law, Brain and Behavior published a co-authored article, “Justice for Emerging Adults After Jones: The Rapidly Developing Use of Neuroscience to Extend Eighth Amendment Miller Protections to Defendants Ages 18 and Older” in the May 2022 Issue of the New York University Law Review.


During his tenure as CLBB Executive Director, Dr. Francis Shen teamed with CLBB student research assistants to provide the first empirical analysis of how courts are receiving arguments favoring raising the age above 18 for Eighth Amendment constitutional protections.

View the article here.


Authors: Francis X. Shen, Fenella McLuskie, Erin Shortell, Mariah Bellamoroso, Elizabeth Escalante, Brenna Evans, Ian Hayes, Clarissa Kimmey, Sarah Lagan, Madeleine Muller, Jennifer Near, Kailey Nicholson, Job Okeri, Ifeoma Okoli, Emily Rehmet, Nancy Gertner, Robert Kinscherff