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New Center on Law and Neuroscience

If you thought the concept of how DNA science has changed criminal law was interesting, then you'll really be entranced by the possible impact of neuroscience on the law. That's the topic that will be the focus of a new national program at UC Santa Barbara that's been funded through a $10 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation, as announced in this press release.

From the press release, here are some of the issues the new center will explore:

Proponents of neuroscientific evidence say it can help make the judicial system more accurate and less biased on matters of guilt, punishment, and treatment, on the detection of lies and bias, and in the prediction of criminal behavior. They believe the result could be less crime and fewer people in prisons. Skeptics fear that brain-imaging technology poses a threat to privacy and notions of personal responsibility. Both scientists and legal scholars warn that failing to properly integrate neuroscience and law could harm the legal system by sending the wrong people to prison, and by creating skepticism about some of the law's basic assumptions...

Three working groups of scholars and legal experts will address the topics of addiction, brain abnormalities, and decision making as they relate to complex issues such as criminal responsibility. Each working group will be directed by a neuroscientist and a legal expert and include up to 15 neuroscientists, legal scholars, philosophers, and practitioners involved in the legal system, including a judge. Each group will review current research, identify gaps in knowledge and understanding, and develop specific research proposals that would contribute to improved law, policy, and legal proceedings.

This sounds like a fascinating area of research, and I look forward to blogging about any findings as they emerge.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on October 9, 2007 at 07:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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