Research Network on Law and Neuroscience Blog

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

Network Releases New Product to Inform Legal, Policy and Justice Advocates about Neurolaw

Interested in learning more about neurolaw but not sure how to approach such a complex topic? Look no further than Law and Neuroscience: What, Why and Where to Begin.  In addition to providing a wealth of resources and information, this brief but important tool offers basic answers to common questions about neurolaw, such as: What new developments have emerged in the past decades that we should be aware of? What are neurolaw’s potential legal applications and limitations? What are the neuroscientific technologies, and how do they work? And, why should I care about this new field and how could it impact me? You can view and download Law and Neuroscience: What, Why and Where to Begin directly here:

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

Tenured or Tenure-Track Opening

Georgia State University College of Law seeks applicants for one openrank tenured or tenure-track position beginning Fall 2017. Having already appointed two exceptional candidates with expertise in Law and Neuroscience (“Neurolaw”) – one in psychology, one in philosophy – Georgia State now seeks to appoint a third scholar with expertise in this field. To qualify for appointment in the College of Law candidates must hold the JD degree at the time of application, and demonstrate a record of excellence in teaching and research. The successful applicant will play a key role in building the university’s Neuroethics/Neurolaw Program, and so a commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration with other relevant departments is critical. Applicants should send a letter of interest, including research statement and a CV with a list of references, directly to the chair of the search committee, William A. Edmundson, at Review of applications will continue until the position is filled. Georgia State, a research university of the University System of Georgia, is committed to serving a diverse student body, and is an AA/EEO Employer. Qualified women and minority candidates are especially encouraged to apply. The College seeks diversity. Offer of employment will be conditional on background check.

Posted by on September 1, 2016 in Around the Web, Education, Neurolaw, Uncategorized

Brain Trauma Rehabilitation in Prison

Newsweek recently published a piece titled “Teaching Prison Inmates About Their Own Brain Trauma Could Help Them Rehabilitate.” To read the article, click here.

Posted by on August 23, 2016 in Around the Web, Criminal Law, Education, Uncategorized