Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Brain Science and the Law

Royal Society report
A panel of experts from the Royal Society has issued a report on Neuroscience and the Law (Dec. 13, 2011):

Neuroscientists seek to determine how brain function affects behaviour, and the law is concerned with regulating behaviour. It is therefore likely that developments in neuroscience will increasingly be brought to bear on the law. This report sets out some of the areas where neuroscience might be of relevance, along with some of the limits to its application. Specific issues discussed include risk assessment in probation and parole decisions; detecting deception; assessing memory; understanding pain; and Non-Accidental Head Injury NAHI).
The experts conclude that the science is potentially relevant to the law, but that it's too early to apply neuroscience directly in legal proceedings. They encourage further dialogue between neuroscientists and people in law.  See Maria Cheng, UK experts: Too soon to use brain science in court, Olympian (via AP), Dec. 12, 2011.

The 46-page report is available for free download in PDF, Kindle, or E-Reader format.

This is part of a series of reports the Royal Society is putting out on neuroscience and society.  The others are: Neuroscience, Society and Policy (Jan. 2011), Neuroscience: Implications for Education and Lifelong Learning (Feb. 2011), and Neuroscience, Conflict and Security (forthcoming).

Last March, the Royal Society and the National Academies co-hosted a two-day forum on neuroscience and the law in Irvine, CA. You can watch videos of most of the panels here.

Intrigued by this area of cross-disciplinary study? You can see posts on a variety of issues in The Law and Neuroscience Blog and the Neuroethics & Law Blog

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