Neuroscience in the Courtroom image

November 3, 2017
Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East (2036)
Harvard Law School, 1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA


The use of neuroscience in the courtroom has become a contentious issue in both criminal and civil cases. Brain scans and similar evidence have made increasingly regular appearances in the courtroom. Common uses include competence, mitigation during sentencing, evidence, and to establish ineffective counsel.  Questions about the use of neuroscience in the courtroom aren’t fully resolved. For example, should murder defendants be held less accountable because images of their brains indicate frontal lobe dysfunction? Can research on adolescent brain development prove children’s inability to form criminal intent? As the judicial system grapples with the intersection of law and neuroscience, our experts discuss how neuroscience can be used, or misused, in the legal system.


  • Legal and ethical challenges in criminal justice predictions based on neuroscience

  • Understanding the use—and misuse—of neuroscience in criminal court

  • The emerging chasm between neuroscience and medicine admissibility of evidence pertaining to brain anatomy and function

  • The adolescent brain and felony charges related to intent


This event is open to the public, but seating is limited and registration will be required.

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Sponsored by the ABA Journal. Part of the Project on Law and Applied Neuroscience, a collaboration between the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain and Behavior (CLBB) and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.


bioethics   criminal law   health law policy   judicial opinions   neuroscience