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.

Could Tsarnaev Argue, ‘My Immature, Pot-Impaired Brain Made Me Do It’?

Judith Edersheim, JD, MD | WBUR CommonHealth | January 9, 2015

As the jury selection for the long-anticipated trial of the alleged Boston Marathon bomber begins, CLBB’s Co-Director and forensic psychiatrist Judith Edersheim comments on the potential use of neuroscientific evidence in Dzokhar Tsarnaev’s trial. Originally published on WBUR’s CommonHealth.

Dr. Edersheim also appeared on Radio Boston to discuss brain science in the Tsarnaev trial on Monday, January 12. Listen here.

This week marked the start of what promises to be a four-month public reckoning: the trial of alleged Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. If the press reports about the evidence against him are accurate, most of the trial will not be about guilt or innocence; it will be about sentencing. Not a who-done-it, but a why-done-it.

If Tsarnaev is found guilty, the death penalty will be on the table, and the proceedings will turn to a grave question, part jurisprudence and part moral philosophy: Is this defendant the most evil and culpable of all? A human being who deserves the most severe of all punishments?

One thing, I believe, is certain: If this case proceeds to the sentencing phase, the black box everyone will be talking about will be the cranium, and how the brain drives behavior will be the central story. Continue reading »