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June 28, 2012

This message brings news about: 1) Supreme Court Neurolaw News; 2) Recent or Forthcoming Neurolaw Publications; 3) Neurolaw Media & News Clippings; 4) Conferences; and 5) Other Developments.

(1)   Supreme Court Neurolaw News

Supreme Court Majority Cites Neuroscience Research

On Monday, June 25, 2012, Justice Kagan announced the opinion for the Court in Miller v. Alabama and Jackson v. Hobbs, holding in a five-to-four vote, that “the Eighth Amendment forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.”

In footnote 5 of the opinion, the Court notes:  “The evidence presented to us in these cases indicates that the science and social science supporting Roper’s and Graham’s conclusions have become even stronger. See, e.g., Brief for American Psychological Association et al. as Amici Curiae 3 (“[A]n ever-growing body of research in developmental psychology and neuroscience continues to confirm and strengthen the Court’s conclusions”); id., at 4 (“It is increasingly clear that adolescent brains are not yet fully mature in regions and systems related to higher-order executive functions such as impulse control, planning ahead, and risk avoidance”); Brief for J. Lawrence Aber et al. as Amici Curiae 12–28 (discussing post-Graham studies); id., at 26–27 (“Numerous studies post-Graham indicate that exposure to deviant peers leads to increased deviant behavior and is a consistent predictor of adolescent delinquency” (footnote omitted))”.

The Court also mentions work by MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience Members, Larry Steinberg and Elizabeth Scott (“Less Guilty by Reason of Adolescence: Developmental Immaturity, Diminished Responsibility, and the Juvenile Death Penalty, 58 Am. Psychologist 1009, 1014 (2003)”) on page 8 in a discussion of Roper. 

Link to the Supreme Court Opinion: and check your regular news sources for this week’s extensive coverage of the opinion.

(2)   Recent or Forthcoming Neurolaw Publications

a. Betsy Grey, Neuroscience, PTSD and Sentencing Mitigation , 33 Cardozo L. Rev. (2012).

b. Emily Murphy, Paved with Good Intentions: Sentencing Alternatives from Neuroscience and the Policy of Problem-Solving Courts, Law and Psychology Review, Vol. 37 (Forthcoming).

c.  Stephen J. Morse, Neuroimaging Evidence in Law: A Plea for Modesty and Relevance, in NEUROIMAGING IN FORENSIC PSYCHIATRY: FROM THE CLINIC TO THE COURTROOM (Joseph R. Simpson, ed., Wiley-Blackwell 2012).

d.  Joshua W. Buckholtz & René Marois, The Roots of Modern Justice: Cognitive and Neural Foundations of Social Norms and their Enforcement, 15 Nature Neuroscience 5 (2012).

e.  Owen D. Jones, Erin O'Hara O'Connor & Jeffrey Evans Stake, Economics, Behavioral Biology, and Law , 19 Sup. Ct. Econ. Rev. 103 (2011).

f.  Tommaso Bruni, Cross-Cultural Variation and fMRI Lie-Detection in TECHNOLOGIES ON THE STAND: LEGAL AND ETHICAL QUESTIONS IN NEUROSCIENCE AND ROBOTICS, 129-148 (B. Van den Berg & L. Klaming eds., Wolf Legal Publishers, 2011).

g. Jennifer Ann Drobac, A Bee Line in the Wrong Direction: Science, Teenagers, and the Sting to 'The Age of Consent' , 20 Journal of Law & Policy 63 (2012).

h. Jean Macchiaroli Eggen & Eric J. Laury, Toward a Neuroscience Model of Tort Law: How Functional Neuroimaging Will Transform Tort Doctrine , Columbia Science and Technology Law Review (forthcoming).

i. Michael S. Pardo & Dennis Patterson, Neuroscience, Normativity, and Retributivism , in THE FUTURE OF PUNISHMENT (Thomas Nadelhoffer, ed., Oxford, forthcoming, 2012).

j.  Michael L. Perlin, Considering Pathological Altruism in the Law from Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Neuroscience Perspectives , in PATHOLOGICAL ALTRUISM (Barbara Oakley, et al., eds., Oxford 2011).

k.  Shana De Caro, Michael V. Kaplen, Traumatic Brain Injury: Detecting, Defining, Litigating, New York Law Journal (2011).

l.  Shana De Caro, Michael V. Kaplen, Current Issues in Neurolaw, 33 Psychiatr Clin N Am 915 (2010).

m.  Nita Farahany, Searching Secrets , 160 U. Penn Law Rev. 5 (2012).

n. Adam Kolber, Give Memory-Altering Drugs a Chance, 476 Nature (2011).

o. Thomas Nadelhoffer, Stephanos Bibas, Scott Grafton, Kent A. Kiehl, Andrew Mansfield, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong & Michael Gazzaniga, Neuroprediction, Violence, and the Law: Setting the Stage, 5 Neuroethics 67 (2012).

p. Abigail A. Baird, Christy L. Barrow, Molly K. Richard, Juvenile Neurolaw: When It's Good It is Very Good Indeed, and When It's Bad It's Horrid, 15 J. Health Care L. & Pol'y 15 (2012).

 As always, hundreds of other Neurolaw publications may be found at our sortable, searchable bibliography, at /bibliography.php.

(3)   Neurolaw Media & News Clippings

a. Gideon Yaffe delivered this Dean's Lecture on criminal responsibility and neuroscience at Yale Law School on November 3, 2011:

b. AAAS Hosts Mock Trial Focused on Neuroscience in the Courtroom:

c. Lizzie Buchen, Science in Court: Arrested Development , 304 Nature 484 (2012).

d. New York Times: The Opinion Pages: Larry Steinberg, member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience, and distinguished university professor of psychology at Temple University, writes on “What the Brain Says About Maturity.”

e. Virginia Hughes, Science in Court: Head Case , 464 Nature 340 (2010).

f. New York Times: The Opinion Pages: Larry Steinberg, member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience, and distinguished university professor of psychology at Temple University, participated in a virtual round-table discussion, Room for Debate: When to Punish, and When to Rehabilitate, where he commented on “Seeing Juveniles’ Maturity, and Immaturity”:

  (4)   Conferences

 a. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics

The Nuffield Council on Bioethics is an independent body based in the UK that examines the ethical, social and legal issues raised by new developments in biological and medical research, and recently it has established a Working Party to consider the issues raised by novel neurotechnologies that intervene in the brain, such as neurostimulation, brain–computer interfaces and neural stem cell therapy. As you will be aware, these neurotechnologies are the focus of intense research for the development of new treatments for diseases such as dementia and conditions like severe brain injury. There is also significant ongoing research into the development of non-medical applications like computer gaming and human enhancement

Open consultation on “Novel neurotechnologies: intervening in the brain

b. Moral & Criminal Responsibility and Neuroscience

The Free will, responsibility and punishment project at the Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London held a workshop on “Moral & Criminal Responsibility and Neuroscience” on June 18-19, 2012.

To learn more about this project:

c. Neuroscience, Children and the Law

June 19, 2012, the Houses of Parliament, Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology:

“Neuroscience offers insights into how brain development and function can affect behaviour. Factors that influence brain development in childhood may affect the likelihood of a child committing an offence, their ability to understand criminal proceedings and inform which interventions could decrease their risk of re-offending. For example, emerging research shows links between childhood brain injury and future offending. But how can these discoveries inform the law and legal proceedings? And what are the repercussions for determining whether a child is legally responsible for an offence? This seminar will feature presentations from leading forensic psychiatrists, psychologists and legal experts who will highlight how policymaking – from setting the age of criminal responsibility to protecting vulnerable children in the justice system – could take account of the latest research.”

d. Emory University Neuroethics Symposium

 “The Truth About Lies: the Neuroscience, Law, and Ethics of Lie Detection Technologies”: The Neuroscience Program, Center for Ethics Neuroethics Program, and the Scholars Program in Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Research (SPINR) are combining forces to hold a symposium on the intersection of neuroscience and law pertaining to the use of fMRI and other lie detection technologies in the courtroom. Drs. Hank Greely, director of the Center for Law and Biosciences at Stanford Law School, Daniel Langleben, a professor of Psychiatry at University of Pennsylvania and pioneer of using fMRI to detect lies, and Steven Laken, founder, president, and CEO of Cephos; a company that markets the use of fMRI for courtroom lie detection will be providing their expertise through a series of talks. Following the talks, Emory’s Carolyn Meltzer, Chair of the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, will join the speakers answering questions from the audience during a panel discussion moderated by Julie Seaman from Emory Law School. Mark your calendars for 1pm-5pm, May 25th, 2012 for this thought-provoking event. For now, you might want to check out this video by our Neuroethics Creative Team on Neuroscience in the Courtroom. For more information, visit

(5)   Other Developments

a. New Law and Neuroscience Website Launched by Vanderbilt

We have launched the website Law and Neuroscience at Vanderbilt, which may be found

at: < >. It highlights neurolaw-related research, courses, and news across a range of Vanderbilt departments and programs. The greater neuroscience community at Vanderbilt now comprises nearly 500 faculty, students and staff who engage in neuroscience-directed research, training and clinical service, throughout the campus at 5 colleges, 22 departments and 27 centers and institutes.

b. Awards

Dr. Julie Robillard won an Early Career Award to present her research, funded by the MacArthur Foundation Law and Neuroscience Project research (in collaboration with Project member Judy Illes), at the Brain Matters 2 Conference in Montreal. Judy Illes and Martha Farah also presented at the conference which was held May 26-27, 2011. The final report may be accessed at:

c. Law and Biosciences Digest

Nita Farahany blogs on her Law and Biosciences Digest , “a daily digest of legal opinions featuring cognitive neuroscience and behavioral genetics.”

d. The Society for Neuroscience Launches

The Society for Neuroscience, with the support of the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and The Kavli Foundation, has launched , “a public information resource for the neuroscience community to explain what neuroscientists do, share the excitement of scientific discovery, and tout the impact for individuals, families, and societies.”


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Owen D. Jones
New York Alumni Chancellor's Chair in Law
Professor of Biological Sciences 
Director, MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience

Vanderbilt University
131  21st Avenue, South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181

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