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.

Multimodal Analysis of Cortical Chemoarchitecture and Macroscale fMRI Resting-State Functional Connectivity

By Martijn P. van den Heuvel, Lianne H. Scholtens, Elise Turk, Dante Mantini, Wim Vanduffel, and Lisa Feldman Barrett | Human Brain Mapping | May 21, 2016


The cerebral cortex is well known to display a large variation in excitatory and inhibitory chemoarchitecture, but the effect of this variation on global scale functional neural communication and synchronization patterns remains less well understood. Here, we provide evidence of the chemoarchitecture of cortical regions to be associated with large-scale region-to-region resting-state functional connectivity. We assessed the excitatory versus inhibitory chemoarchitecture of cortical areas as an ExIn ratio between receptor density mappings of excitatory (AMPA, M1) and inhibitory (GABAA, M2) receptors, computed on the basis of data collated from pioneering studies of autoradiography mappings as present in literature of the human (2 datasets) and macaque (1 dataset) cortex. Cortical variation in ExIn ratio significantly correlated with total level of functional connectivity as derived from resting-state functional connectivity recordings of cortical areas across all three datasets (human I: P = 0.0004; human II: P = 0.0008; macaque: P = 0.0007), suggesting cortical areas with an overall more excitatory character to show higher levels of intrinsic functional connectivity during resting-state. Our findings are indicative of the microscale chemoarchitecture of cortical regions to be related to resting-state fMRI connectivity patterns at the global system’s level of connectome organization.

Read the entire article here.

Functional Connectivity Dynamics During Film Viewing Reveal Common Networks for Different Emotional Experiences

By Gal Raz, Alexandra Touroutoglou, Christine Wilson-Mendenhall, Gadi Gilam, Tamar Lin, Tal GonenYael Jacob, Shir Atzil, Roee Admon, Maya Bleich-Cohen, Adi Maron-Katz, Talma Hendler, and Lisa Feldman Barrett | Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience | May 3, 2016


Recent theoretical and empirical work has highlighted the role of domain-general, large-scale brain networks in generating emotional experiences. These networks are hypothesized to process aspects of emotional experiences that are not unique to a specific emotional category (e.g., “sadness,” “happiness”), but rather that generalize across categories. In this article, we examined the dynamic interactions (i.e., changing cohesiveness) between specific domain-general networks across time while participants experienced various instances of sadness, fear, and anger. We used a novel method for probing the network connectivity dynamics between two salience networks and three amygdala-based networks. We hypothesized, and found, that the functional connectivity between these networks covaried with the intensity of different emotional experiences. Stronger connectivity between the dorsal salience network and the medial amygdala network was associated with more intense ratings of emotional experience across six different instances of the three emotion categories examined. Also, stronger connectivity between the dorsal salience network and the ventrolateral amygdala network was associated with more intense ratings of emotional experience across five out of the six different instances. Our findings demonstrate that a variety of emotional experiences are associated with dynamic interactions of domain-general neural systems.

Read the full article here.

We Asked Scientists: Just How Punchable is Martin Shkreli’s Face?

By Jessica Goldstein | ThinkProgress | February 10, 2016

Martin Shkreli, the widely-despised pharmaceutical CEO who hiked the price of a cancer drug from $13.50 a tablet to $750 overnight, may currently hold the crown for America’s Most Actively Disliked Public Figure.

Last Thursday, Shkreli testified before the House Committee on Oversight. He barely said a word while seated at the witness table, choosing to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself. Instead, Shkreli twisted his face into every smug smirk imaginable. Each expression was more disdainful and infuriating than the last. A consensus from an already not-thrilled public was reached: Martin Shkreli has the most punchable face in the world. It is almost a wonder to behold. Continue reading »

Redefining the Role of Limbic Areas in Cortical Processing

By Lorena Chanes and Lisa Feldman Barrett | Trends in Cognitive Science | December 15, 2015


There is increasing evidence that the brain actively constructs action and perception using past experience. In this paper, we propose that the direction of information flow along gradients of laminar differentiation provides important insight on the role of limbic cortices in cortical processing. Cortical limbic areas, with a simple laminar structure (e.g., no or rudimentary layer IV), send ‘feedback’ projections to lower level better laminated areas. We propose that this ‘feedback’ functions as predictions that drive processing throughout the cerebral cortex. This hypothesis has the potential to provide a unifying framework for an increasing number of proposals that use predictive coding to explain a myriad of neural processes and disorders, and has important implications for hypotheses about consciousness.

Read the full article here.

Bridging Cytoarchitectonics and Connectomics in Human Cerebral Cortex

By Martijn P. van den HeuvelLianne H. ScholtensLisa Feldman BarrettClaus C. Hilgetag, and Marcel A. de Reus | The Journal of Neuroscience | October 14, 2015


The rich variation in cytoarchitectonics of the human cortex is well known to play an important role in the differentiation of cortical information processing, with functional multimodal areas noted to display more branched, more spinous, and an overall more complex cytoarchitecture. In parallel, connectome studies have suggested that also the macroscale wiring profile of brain areas may have an important contribution in shaping neural processes; for example, multimodal areas have been noted to display an elaborate macroscale connectivity profile. However, how these two scales of brain connectivity are related—and perhaps interact—remains poorly understood. In this communication, we combined data from the detailed mappings of early twentieth century cytoarchitectonic pioneers Von Economo and Koskinas (1925) on the microscale cellular structure of the human cortex with data on macroscale connectome wiring as derived from high-resolution diffusion imaging data from the Human Connectome Project. In a cross-scale examination, we show evidence of a significant association between cytoarchitectonic features of human cortical organization—in particular the size of layer 3 neurons—and whole-brain corticocortical connectivity. Our findings suggest that aspects of microscale cytoarchitectonics and macroscale connectomics are related.

Read the full article here.