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.

Neuroscience in the Service of Justice

The BSNNP is happy to have Judith Edersheim JD, MD and Robert Kinscherff PhD, JD of The Center for Law, Brain & Behavior presenting a lecture entitled:

“Neuroscience in the Service of Justice”.

Thurs. February 10th, 2022



Sponsored by the Boston Society of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, Co-Sponsored by the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior

Dr. Judith Edersheim is Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and an attending Psychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Edersheim has performed a wide variety of forensic evaluations in both civil and criminal settings, including evaluations of competencies to stand trial, testamentary capacity, the capacity to make medical decisions, fitness for duty, the assessment of emotional damages, diminished capacity and criminal responsibility. Dr. Edersheim’s research interest is in the translation of psychiatric and neurologic behavior into legal settings. She has published articles regarding the intersection of legal and medical concepts in peer reviewed medical journals such as the Journal of the American Academy of Law and Psychiatry and The Clinical Companion to the Journal of Primary Care and in legal journals such as the Massachusetts Family Law Journal. She has been a featured speaker locally, regionally and nationally regarding issues pertaining to neuroscience, psychiatry and the law.

Dr. Robert Kinscherff is a clinical/forensic psychologist and attorney who currently serves as Executive Director of the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). He has been affiliated with CLBB for ten years and prior to taking this position he had served for three years as the Associate Managing Director of CLBB’s Juvenile and Young Adult Justice Project, and was the 2015 – 2017 Senior Fellow in Law and Applied Neuroscience for CLBB and the Petrie Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. Other service has included membership in governmental commissions and working groups on sexual offenders, juvenile homicide, medical care in correctional settings, and persons with severe and persistent mental illness and/or developmental or intellectual disabilities in juvenile and adult justice systems. For over a decade, Dr. Kinscherff served on the MA Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee. His research and practice areas include juvenile and adult offenders, post-Miller resentencing and parole cases, expert testimony, violence risk assessment and management, law and policy in justice system reforms, gun violence policy, and the impact of adversities, resiliencies, and social determinants in child, adolescent, and young adult development. He has published widely, teaches and consults nationally and internationally, is involved in state and federal legislative education and advocacy, and provides trial and appellate judicial education on the implications of developmental neuroscience for law and public policy.

Dementia & The Law: Protecting Your Loved Ones

A Conversation with Dr. Judy Edersheim and Dr. Bruce Price, Co-Founders and Co-Directors of the MGH Center for Law, Brain and Behavior

February 11th @ 10:00AM EST

MGH FTD Unit Community Forum Friday Webinar Series
Link to Livestream

Do you have questions about legal and financial considerations after a diagnosis of dementia? Have you thought about the role that an attorney can have as a member of your care team? Do you know the steps you can take to protect yourself and your vulnerable loved one in the face of financial scams?

Join Katie Brandt for a conversation with Dr. Judy Edersheim and Dr. Bruce Price, Co-Founders and Co-Directors of the MGH Center for Law, Brain and Behavior to discuss how families can recognize legal and financial threats and take action to protect their loved ones living with a diagnosis of dementia.

We hope that you will join us for this informative and engaging session!

Judith G. Edersheim, JD, MD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry,
Harvard Medical School
Psychiatrist, Mass General Hospital
Co-Founder and Co-Director, The MGH Center for Law, Brain and Behavior

Bruce Price, MD
Senior Clinical Associate,
Department of Neurology,
Mass General Hospital
Associate Professor of Neurology,
Harvard Medical School
Co-Founder and Co-Director, The MGH Center for Law, Brain and Behavior

MGH FTD Unit Online Community Supports

We are partnering with community experts to bring you relevant information to navigate life with a diagnosis, caregiving and staying connected with our MGH FTD Unit community.

All Community Forum Fridays are Recorded and Posted to:
MGH FTD Unit YouTube Channel

Learn more about the MGH Frontotemporal Disorders Unit:

White Paper on the Science of Late Adolescence: A Guide for Judges, Attorneys, and Policy Makers

In September of 2020, the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital convened a virtual Neuroscience Summit with legal scholars and attorneys, neuroscientists, physicians and psychologists from multiple specialties, and members of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience. The Summit’s focus was: The science of emerging adulthood: What do we know and how might this knowledge be appropriately applied in the law?

The impetus for the Summit was a series of landmark United States Supreme Court decisions between 2005 – 2016 in which the Court clarified that the developmental immaturity of youth who committed crimes under age 18 offered them protection under the Eighth Amendment that bars their execution, life sentences without possibility of parole for non-homicide crimes, and imposition of mandatory life without possibility of parole for homicides. Further litigation of the reach of Eighth Amendment protections for juveniles was anticipated and, in fact, the Supreme Court issued another decision bearing upon what procedures are required in sentencing juveniles for capital offenses in April 2021 in Jones v. Mississippi.

In this line of cases, the U.S. Supreme Court increasingly relied upon developmental neuroscience and related areas of developmental social sciences. The Court also relied upon developmental sciences in ruling in JDB. v. North Carolina (2011) that a youth’s age must be a factor considered in determining their capacity to waive their Miranda rights when interrogated by police. These cases sparked litigation in state and federal courts about whether Eighth Amendment protections afforded youth under age 18 should be extended to older adolescents and emerging young adults. As a result, State legislatures have also begun to consider extending juvenile court jurisdiction or the age of full criminal culpability beyond age 18. Further, State juvenile justice and correctional authorities have begun considering reforms to better align responses developmentally in preventing or responding to misconduct by adolescents and emerging adults.

These litigated cases and policy initiatives could signal a sea-change in how we attempt to support positive youth development, prevent youthful crime, and foster rehabilitation and community safety when crimes are committed. However, the success of science- based law and policy initiatives remains uncertain and hotly contested.

It is into this complex and dynamic context that CLBB releases the White Paper on the Science of Late Adolescence: A Guide for Judges, Attorneys, and Policy Makers. This White Paper is the product of the Neuroscience Summit and intensive multidisciplinary collaboration over the months since the Summit. We anticipate that it will have significant and enduring impact nationally in shaping litigation, legislation, and practice across multiple professions and systems that interact with juveniles, late adolescents, and emerging adults.

We hope that you find it helpful in your own thinking about the role of developmental neuroscience and related developmental research in fostering positive outcomes for our young persons, their families, and our communities. As importantly, we hope that it provides information that can support science-based policies, practices, reforms, and innovations which you and others will devise and implement.


Families, Substance Use Disorder, and the Courts: Is Compassion Consistent with Accountability?

February 22, 2022, 12:00 PM

See event recording here!

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

How can family law support parents and their children when a parent has a substance use disorder?

One in eight children live in a home with a parent with a substance use disorder. Most of these children are under the age of five.

This discussion will examine innovations in family law contexts, such as divorce, child custody, and care and dependency cases, that promote safety and recovery while emphasizing compassion and support for parents. Topics of discussion will include family drug court interventions, interventions for mothers with opioid use ​disorder, integrated family medical and behavioral care, and implications for policy.


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

Hon. Beth A. Crawford (Ret.), First Justice, Franklin County Probate and Family Court, Massachusetts (Former)

Davida Schiff, MD, Director, Perinatal and Family-based SUDs Care at Massachusetts General Hospital and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School

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.

Neuroscience and Criminal Law: The Post-Jones Landscape for Late Adolescents and Emerging Adults

 February 09, 2022, 12:30 PM

Watch the recording here!

Event Description

The U.S. Supreme Court landmark case of Roper v. Simmons (2005) barring execution for crimes committed prior to age 18 launched a line of cases extending Eighth Amendment protections for juveniles. These cases clearly established that children are not little adults. The April 2021 SCOTUS decision in Jones v. Mississippi appears to signal a shift from federal constitutional cases to litigation and legislation among the states. This has prompted vigorous debate about how science should inform criminal law and policy regarding late teens and emerging adults and sharpens ongoing controversy about how developmental science is or should be applied to those under 18. This panel surveys the current landscape of cases and legislation focused on crafting developmentally aligned frameworks for responding to misconduct by younger adolescents, late adolescents (ages 18 – 20) and emerging adults (21 – 25), including “raising the age” of full criminal culpability past age 18. The contributions of neuroscience to informing a developmentally aligned jurisprudence for late adolescents and emerging adults will be reviewed.


  • Introduction: Carmel Shachar, Executive Director, Petrie-Flom Center
  • Honorable Jay Blitzman (ret.), CLBB Affiliated Faculty and Lecturer, Harvard Law School, Northeastern Law School, and Boston College Law School
  • Lael Chester, JD, Director of the Emerging Adult Justice Project at Columbia University’s Justice Lab
  • 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.