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.

Bad To The Bone: Juveniles In Jail

CLBB’s Judith Edersheim, Robert Kinscherff, and Gene Beresin were featured in a podcast by the MGH Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds to discuss the treatment of adolescents in the juvenile justice system, and the brain and behavioral characteristics that distinguish them from adults. They also wrote an accompanying blog post to complement the podcast, which can be found here.

Listen to the entire podcast below:

Supporting Medical Students’ Pursuit of Longitudinal Patient Experiences: Piloting an Innovative Visit Notification Tool at the Massachusetts General Hospital

By Shekinah N. Elmore, Kimberly E. Kopecky, Keith Jennings, Marc de Moya, Gene Beresin, and Douglas E. Wright | Academic Medicine | July 23, 2015



Both medical educators and students have an increasing interest in longitudinal patient experiences (LPE) that allow students to work with patients at multiple points in time, often across multiple clinical settings. Despite this interest in LPE, following patients over time and across health systems remains a challenge.


In August 2012–May 2013, with faculty support, two third-year medical students implemented a pilot program at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the third-year block clerkship curriculum. One of the authors modified an existing novel, electronic visit notification tool (VNT) that integrates with the electronic medical record (EMR) to help students follow patients longitudinally. Students added patients to their cohort after obtaining the patient’s verbal consent. Each week, the VNT sent students e-mails notifying them of all scheduled appointments for their cohort patients at all Partners HealthCare–affiliated sites.


Each pilot student added approximately 20 patients to her cohort and followed 3–5 patients consistently. The pilot students felt the VNT made it significantly easier to follow patients over time, their appreciation of chronic illness care developed, and they gained a greater understanding of the integrated nature of patient care.

Next Steps

On the basis of student interest, the tool was made available to all MGH third year students in March–May 2013 and offered to all MGH third-year students at the beginning of the next clinical year. Notification tools such as the VNT may enhance a hospital’s existing EMR and facilitate longitudinal educational goals across all clinical clerkship models.

Read the full article here.

Working group to tackle juvenile brain & justice system

Beginning in summer 2014, as part of a venture into juvenile justice as an ongoing program area, CLBB convened a faculty juvenile justice working group to bring together experts in the adolescent brain and criminal justice to respond to key ethical and legal issues at their intersections. The groups, drawing from the Harvard Law and Medical Schools and Harvard University Psychology Faculty, will convene for ongoing expert faculty meetings, academic publications, and a public seminar event. The group is supported by the Harvard Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative. View the initial announcement here.

CLBB Faculty and working group members include adolescent brain researchers Leah Somerville, PhD and Margaret Sheridan, PhD, adolescent psychiatrist Gene Beresin, MD, and juvenile offender evaluation and juvenile justice policy experts Thomas Grisso, PhD, Robert Kinscherff, PhD, Esq., and Gina Vincent, PhD.

The group will culminate its first year with a public Symposium on Juvenile Justice on Thursday, March 12, 2015. The Symposium will take place at the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center of Harvard Medical School. View event details and RSVP.


Doctors Call: End Warning on Antidepressants or Risk Suicides

ABC News | July 9, 2014 | Susan Donaldson James

Mental health experts are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to remove its most severe label – the so-called “black box warning” — on all categories of antidepressants because it has been “highly correlated” with a more than 33 percent jump in suicide attempts over the last decade as doctors and patients who could benefit from the drugs have shied away from using them.

June study published in the BMJ backs up previous research that shows a link between fears about the use of antidepressants and young people taking their lives.

The data is “startling,” said Dr. Gene Beresin, executive director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds, which is affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital.

“A black box warning means parents and doctors must be aware and monitor,” he told ABC News. “But that’s the next closest thing to prohibition.”

Continue reading »

CLBB to lead Pain, Juvenile Justice Interdisciplinary Working Groups

Our understanding of the neuroscientific underpinnings of the human brain is evolving at a rapid rate. This ongoing development presents many challenges for its timely, successful translation into law and policy. In 2014-2015, the Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior, through the support of the Harvard Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative, will convene faculty working groups to incite scholarship into two translational gaps in neuroscience and law: pain and suffering, and the juvenile brain. The groups, drawing from the Harvard Law and Medical Schools and Harvard University Psychology Faculty, will convene for ongoing expert faculty meetings, academic publications, and a public seminar event. The groups represent CLBB’s initial ventures into pain and juvenile justice as ongoing program areas. Continue reading »