Research Network on Law and Neuroscience Blog

New G2i Knowledge Brief

New Knowledge Brief from the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience

“Individual results may vary.” This phrase pops up frequently in our daily lives, but it is often ignored, underestimated or misunderstood in the courtroom. Using scientific data gathered from large groups to make predictions about individual cases (otherwise known as Group to Individual, or “G2i” inference) is a practice fraught with potential problems, yet it is common in our legal system. So how should judges and juries treat expert testimony that relies on group data to describe one individual? Our latest knowledge brief provides guidance on practical questions, such as:

●       What guidance has the Supreme Court provided on the issue of scientific inference?

●       How should courts handle the admissibility of general scientific evidence versus diagnostic testimony?

●       What practices can courts adopt to ensure effective management of the G2i divide?


You can view and download the G2i Knowledge Brief here:

Posted by on September 27, 2017 in Neurolaw, Neuroscience, Recent Neurolaw-related Papers

Call for Papers

The Inaugural Junior Faculty Forum for Law and STEM will be held on October 6-7, 2017 at University of Pennsylvania Law School, Philadelphia, PA. The Northwestern, Penn, and Stanford Law Schools are pleased to announce the creation of a new Junior Faculty Forum dedicated to interdisciplinary scholarship focusing on the intersection of Law and Science-Technology-Engineering-Mathematics (STEM).  The forum will be held each fall, rotating among Northwestern, Penn, and Stanford. The forum is currently seeking submissions from junior faculty interested in presenting papers at the forum.  The deadline for submissions has been moved to Friday, June 16 .

Twelve to twenty young scholars will be chosen on a blind basis from among those submitting papers to present.  One or more senior scholars, not necessarily from Northwestern, Penn, and Stanford, will comment on each paper.  The audience will include the participating junior faculty, faculty from the host institutions, and invited guests.

Our goal is to promote interdisciplinary research exploring how developments in STEM are affecting law and vice versa.  Preference will be given to papers with the strong interdisciplinary approaches integrating these two areas of study.

The Forum invites submissions on any topic related to the intersection of law and any STEM field.  Potential topics include (but are not limited to):

  •          Artificial intelligence
  •          Assisted reproduction
  •          Autonomous vehicles
  •          Bitcoin and other blockchain technologies
  •          Computational law
  •          Customized medicine
  •          Epigenetics
  •          Genomics: Human and Non-Human
  •          Machine learning and predictive analytics
  •          Nanotechnology
  •          Neuroscience
  •          Online security and privacy
  •          Regulation of online platforms
  •          Robotics
  •          Smart contracting and automated analysis of legal texts
  •          Stem cell research
  •          Synthetic biology

A jury of accomplished scholars with expertise in the particular topic will select the papers to be presented.  Suggestions of possible commentators are also welcome.


There is no publication commitment, nor is previously published work eligible for presentation.  Northwestern, Penn, and Stanford will pay presenters’ and commentators’ travel expenses, though international flights may be only partially reimbursed.

QUALIFICATIONS: To be eligible, an author must be teaching at a U.S. university in a tenured or tenure-track position and must have been teaching at either of those ranks for no more than seven years.  American citizens or permanent residents teaching abroad are also eligible to submit provided that they have held a faculty position or the equivalent, including positions comparable to junior faculty positions in research institutions, for no more than seven years and that they earned their last degree after 2007.  We accept jointly authored submissions so long as the presenting coauthor is individually eligible to participate in the Forum and none of the other coauthors has taught in a tenured or tenure-track position for more than seven years.  Given the novelty of this Forum, the organizers reserve the right to accept submissions in exceptional cases that fall outside the strict eligibility criteria.  Papers that will be published prior to the meeting in October 6-7, 2017, are not eligible.  Authors may submit more than one paper.

PAPER SUBMISSION PROCEDURE: Electronic submissions should be registered through the collection website, found here .  The deadline for submission has been moved to Friday, June 16, 2017.  Please remove all references to the author(s) in the paper. When you register your paper, please include the title of your paper and the general topic under which your paper falls.  Any questions about the submission procedure should be directed both to Professor Christopher Yoo and the email account for the Forum conference coordinator at

FURTHER INFORMATION: Inquiries concerning the Forum should be sent to David Schwartz at the Northwestern University School of Law, Christopher Yoo at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, or Mark Lemley at the Stanford Law School.

Posted by on June 7, 2017 in Around the Web, Calls for Papers, Conferences and Events

Article of Interest: The Origins of Cognitive Deficits in Victimized Children

The Origins of Cognitive Deficits in Victimized Children: Implications for Neuroscientists and Clinicians

Andrea Danese, M.D., Ph.D., Terrie E. Moffitt, Ph.D., Louise Arseneault, Ph.D., Ben A. Bleiberg, B.S., Perry B. Dinardo, B.A., Stephanie B. Gandelman, B.S., Renate Houts, Ph.D., Antony Ambler, M.Sc., Helen L. Fisher, Ph.D., Richie Poulton, Ph.D., Avshalom Caspi, Ph.D.

Individuals reporting a history of childhood violence victimization have impaired brain function. However, the clinical significance, reproducibility, and causality of these findings are disputed. The authors used data from two large cohort studies to address these research questions directly.

The authors tested the association between prospectively collected measures of childhood violence victimization and cognitive functions in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood among 2,232 members of the U.K. E-Risk Study and 1,037 members of the New Zealand Dunedin Study who were followed up from birth until ages 18 and 38 years, respectively. Multiple measures of victimization and cognition were used, and comparisons were made of cognitive scores for twins discordant for victimization.

Individuals exposed to childhood victimization had pervasive impairments in clinically relevant cognitive functions, including general intelligence, executive function, processing speed, memory, perceptual reasoning, and verbal comprehension in adolescence and adulthood. However, the observed cognitive deficits in victimized individuals were largely explained by cognitive deficits that predated childhood victimization and by confounding genetic and environmental risks.

Findings from two population-representative birth cohorts totaling more than 3,000 individuals and born 20 years and 20,000 km apart suggest that the association between childhood violence victimization and later cognition is largely noncausal, in contrast to conventional interpretations. These findings support the adoption of a more circumspect approach to causal inference in the neuroscience of stress. Clinically, cognitive deficits should be conceptualized as individual risk factors for victimization as well as potential complicating features during treatment.

Posted by on May 14, 2017 in Adolescents, Around the Web

NYT Coverage of Network Research on Young Adult Brains

NYT Coverage of Network Research on Young Adult Brains: The New York Times recently ran a piece titled “A California Court for Young Adults Calls on Science,” which highlights Network research on young adult brains. To read the piece, click here.

Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Adolescents, Neurolaw in the News, Popular Press

New Publication: Predicting the Knowledge-Recklessness Distinction in the Human Brain

Iris Vilares, Michael Wesley, Woo-Young Ahn, Richard J. Bonnie, Morris B. Hoffman, Owen D. Jones, Stephen J. Morse, Gideon Yaffe, Terry Lohrenz, & Read Montague, Predicting the Knowledge-Recklessness Distinction in the Human Brain , Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2016).

Abstract:  Criminal convictions require proof that a prohibited act was performed in a statutorily specified mental state. Different legal consequences, including greater punishments, are mandated for those who act in a state of knowledge, compared with a state of recklessness. Existing research, however, suggests people have trouble classifying defendants as knowing, rather than reckless, even when instructed on the relevant legal criteria.

We used a machine-learning technique on brain imaging data to predict, with high accuracy, which mental state our participants were in. This predictive ability depended on both the magnitude of the risks and the amount of information about those risks possessed by the participants. Our results provide neural evidence of a detectable difference in the mental state of knowledge in contrast to recklessness and suggest, as a proof of principle, the possibility of inferring from brain data in which legally relevant category a person belongs. Some potential legal implications of this result are discussed.

Posted by on April 1, 2017 in Neuroimaging, Neurolaw, Recent Neurolaw-related Papers

How Should Justice Policy Treat Young Offenders?

Our just-released knowledge brief, How Should Justice Policy Treat Young Offenders?, details the latest research and policy advances related to adolescent and young adult brain development.

The justice system in the United States has long recognized that juvenile offenders are not the same as adults, and has tried to incorporate those differences into law and policy. But only in recent decades have behavioral scientists and neuroscientists, along with policymakers, looked rigorously at developmental differences, seeking answers to two overarching questions: Are young offenders, purely by virtue of their immaturity, different from older individuals who commit crimes? And, if they are, how should justice policy take this into account?

A growing body of research on adolescent development now confirms that teenagers are indeed inherently different from adults, not only in their behaviors, but also (and of course relatedly) in the ways their brains function. These findings have influenced a series of Supreme Court decisions relating to the treatment of adolescents, and have led legislators and other policymakers across the country to adopt a range of developmentally informed justice policies.

New research is showing distinct changes in the brains of young adults, ages 18 to 21, suggesting that they too may be immature in ways that are relevant to justice policy.

This knowledge brief from the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience considers the implications of this new research.

You can view and download How Should Justice Policy Treat Young Offenders? at this link :

Posted by on March 1, 2017 in Adolescents, Recent Neurolaw-related Papers

Lie Detection Brief

The Research Network is pleased to announce the release of a new brief, fMRI and Lie Detection.

Some studies have reported the ability to detect lies, with a high degree of accuracy, by analyzing brain data acquired using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). But is this new technology ready for its day in court?

The new brief provides answers to some of our most pressing research questions, such as:

●       Can fMRI reliably detect lies?
●       What are the potential legal applications and limitations of fMRI lie detection?
●       Can subjects use countermeasures to successfully conceal a lie?
●      Which factors can create cause for concern about experimental validity?

You can access fMRI and Lie Detection by clicking here.

Posted by on December 8, 2016 in Education, Lie Detection, Neuroimaging, Neurolaw, Recent Neurolaw-related Papers, Uncategorized

Neurolaw News

The MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience distributes an e-newsletter, Neurolaw News, which highlights important items of interest for the neurolaw community.  These include notifications of new publications, news of upcoming neurolaw conferences, and the like.  To avoid inbox clutter, distributions occur approximately once every month.

To subscribe to the newsletter, please visit:

For the latest edition of Neurolaw News, please visit:

Posted by on October 20, 2016 in Addiction, Adolescents, Around the Web, Books, Calls for Papers, Conferences and Events, Criminal Law, Education, Lie Detection, Neuroethics, Neuroimaging, Neurolaw, Neurolaw in the News, Neuroscience, Prediction, Psychopathy, Recent Neurolaw-related Papers, Uncategorized

Network Publication on Third-Party Punishment

A just-published study by a Research Network team used fMRI brain-scanning techniques to identify and dissociate the four different patterns of brain activities involved in:

1.     Evaluating the mental state of a defendant

2.     Evaluating the harm the defendant caused

3.     Integrating mental state and harm information

4.     Deciding a punishment amount

The work – published as “ Parsing the Behavioral and Brain Mechanisms of Third-Party Punishment ” – appears in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Posted by on September 22, 2016 in Around the Web, Criminal Law, Neuroimaging, Neurolaw, Recent Neurolaw-related Papers, Uncategorized

National Law Journal Op-Ed: “Readying the Legal Community for More Neuroscientific Evidence”

Network Director Owen D. Jones published an op-ed in the September 12 edition of the National Law Journal titled “Readying the Legal Community for More Neuroscientific Evidence: Understanding complex advances in neurolaw can aid the administration of justice.”

The op-ed outlines the promise – and pitfalls – of the rapidly expanding field of neurolaw, and why it behooves legal practitioners to educate themselves about it. To read the op-ed, please click here and register for free to access.

Posted by on September 13, 2016 in Around the Web, Education, Neurolaw, Neurolaw in the News, Uncategorized