Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Stephanie Knightlinger told me about a fascinating article in Sunday's New York Times Magazine about applications -- and potential applications -- of neuroscience in the law. Take a look: Jeffrey Rosen, The Brain on the Stand, NY Times Mag., March 11, 2007.

The article discusses many scientists' and scholars' work. Here are a few links if you want to look further:

  • O. Carter Snead, a law professor at Notre Dame, has written in the area and serves on the President's Council on Bioethics. See O. Carter Snead, Neuroimaging and the 'Complexity' of Capital Punishment (February 27, 2007). Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper No. 07-03 (avail. at SSRN).
  • The President's Council on Bioethics discussed neuroscience and law at its Sept. 2004 meeting:
  • Vanderbilt Law School is setting up a law and neuroscience program, led by Prof. Owen D. Jones, who has appointments in the med school and the law school.
  • The University of Pennsylvania also had a number of people working in the field, including Stephen J. Morse (Prof. of Law and Prof. of Psychology and Law in Psychiatry) and Prof. Ruben G. Gur (Psychiatry).
  • A group of professional associations -- including the American Medical Association -- filed an amicus brief in Roper v. Simmons (juvenile death penalty) discussing what science says about adolescent brains. Although the Court didn't cite the brief, observers believe it was influential in the decision.
  • The Center for Cognitive Liberty and Ethics "is a network of scholars elaborating the law, policy and ethics of freedom of thought. [Its] mission is to develop public polices that will preserve and enhance freedom of thought into the 21st Century."
Are you stumped when you hear or read "amygdala," "cerebellum," or "medulla oblongata"? Would you like an accessible introduction to neuroscience? See Neuroscience for Kids, a website developed by a team led by Dr. Eric H. Chudler, Director of Education and Outreach, UW Bioengineered Materials.

By the way, this week (March 12-18, 2007) is Brain Awareness Week, observed by more than 2000 organizations in 69 countries. Did you know that there's an International Brain Bee? It's this week at the University of Maryland in Baltimore.

Graphic from the Dana Foundation's collection of graphics for Brain Awareness Week.

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