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.

WATCH – “From Troubled Teens to Tsarnaev: Promises and Perils of Adolescent Neuroscience and Law”

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The neuroscience of adolescent brain development has had increasing impact on American jurisprudence. The U.S. Supreme Court relied on this neuroscience in Roper v. Simmons (2005) in barring execution for capital crimes committed as a juvenile and in Miller v. Alabama (2012) in holding that mandatory life without possibility of parole for juveniles is also unconstitutional.

On Monday, September 28, 2015, CLBB and the Petrie-Flom Center assembled a panel of developmental scientists, clinicians, and legal scholars for a panel discussion examining the implications of developmental neuroscience for law in specific domains including death penalty mitigation for young adults over age 18 such as the Tsarnaev case, a developmentally informed view of Miranda and Competence to Stand Trial for juveniles, trial of youth as adults, and conditions of confinement in juvenile and adult incarceration.

The panel discussed the promises and perils for constitutional jurisprudence, legal and public policy reform, and trial practice of relying upon a complex body of science as it emerges. Scroll down to view complete video from the event.

This event is part of the Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience, a collaboration between the Center for Law, Brain & Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. 

The panel took place on Monday, September 28, 2015 from 4-5:30pm at Harvard Law School.


gertner_150x150Judge Nancy Gertner (ret.), Senior Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School; Faculty, Center for Law, Brain and Behavior



kinscherff_150x150Robert Kinscherff, PhD, JD, 2015-2016 Senior Fellow in Law & Applied Neuroscience, Center for Law, Brain & Behavior and Petrie-Flom Center; Faculty in the Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology and Associate Vice President for Community Engagement, William James College; Senior Associate, National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice; Faculty, Center for Law, Brain and Behavior

somerville_150x150Leah Somerville, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Harvard University; Faculty, Center for Law, Brain and Behavior

glenn cohen 150x150Introductions + Q&A: I. Glenn Cohen, JD, Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, and Faculty Director, Petrie-Flom Center of Harvard Law School

Moderatedersheim 150x150 newor: Judith G. Edersheim, JD, MD, Co-Director, Center for Law, Brain and Behavior; Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Attending Psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital

Watch video of the entire event below, or explore past events on juvenile justice issues on CLBB’s Vimeo channel.


Related Content

For more on the neuroscience of the adolescent brain, criminal sentencing, and the Tsarnaev case, check out these pieces from our panelists.