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September 5, 2014

This message brings news about:

A) Recent or Forthcoming Neurolaw Publications
B) Neurolaw Media & News Clippings
C) Conferences & Speaker Series

A.  Recent or Forthcoming Neurolaw Publications

1.  Michael T. Treadway, Joshua W. Buckholtz, Justin W. Martin, Katharine Jan, Christopher L. Asplund, Matthew R. Ginther, Owen D. Jones & René Marois, Corticolimbic Gating of Emotion-Driven Punishment , Nature Neuroscience (2014).    

A new article represents a major advance in understanding the interactions of rational and emotional brain regions during punishment decisions. 


Determining the appropriate punishment for a norm violation requires consideration of both the perpetrator’s state of mind (for example, purposeful or blameless) and the strong emotions elicited by the harm caused by their actions. It has been hypothesized that such affective responses serve as a heuristic that determines appropriate punishment. However, an actor’s mental state often trumps the effect of emotions, as unintended harms may go unpunished, regardless of their magnitude. Using fMRI, we found that emotionally graphic descriptions of harmful acts amplify punishment severity, boost amygdala activity and strengthen amygdala connectivity with lateral prefrontal regions involved in punishment decision-making. However, this was only observed when the actor’s harm was intentional; when harm was unintended, a temporoparietal-medial-prefrontal circuit suppressed amygdala activity and the effect of graphic descriptions on punishment was abolished. These results reveal the brain mechanisms by which evaluation of a transgressor’s mental state gates our emotional urges to punish.

The Vanderbilt Press Release on the new research appears here:  

Please contact for commentary:

Michael Treadway

René Marois                 

2.  Owen D. Jones, Richard J. Bonnie, B. J. Casey, Andre Davis, David L. Faigman, Morris Hoffman, Read Montague, Stephen J. Morse, Marcus E. Raichle, Jennifer A. Richeson, Elizabeth Scott, Laurence Steinberg, Kim Taylor-Thompson, Anthony Wagner, and Gideon Yaffe, Law and Neuroscience: Recommendations Submitted to the President's Bioethics Commission , 1(2) J Law Biosci 224 (2014).

President Obama charged the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to identify a set of core ethical standards in the neuroscience domain, including the appropriate use of neuroscience in the criminal-justice system. The Commission, in turn, called for comments and recommendations.

The MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience submitted a consensus statement containing 16 specific recommendations. These are organized within three main themes: 1) what steps should be taken to enhance the capacity of the criminal justice system to make sound decisions regarding the admissibility and weight of neuroscientific evidence?; 2) to what extent can the capacity of neurotechnologies to aid in the administration of criminal justice be enhanced through research?; and 3) in what additional ways might important ethical issues at the intersection of neuroscience and criminal justice be addressed? These comments along with introductory commentary have been published by the Journal of Law and the Biosciences, and can be accessed here:

3.  Stephen J. Morse, Criminal Law and Neuroscience: Present and Future , 65(2) NILQ 243 (2014).

4.  Stephen J. Morse, Brain Imaging in the Courtroom: The Quest for Legal Relevance , The Neuroethics Blog (2014). Available:

5.  Laurence Steinberg, Age of Opportunity: Lessons From the New Science of Adolescence , Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin (2014).

This book will be published on September 9, 2014, but is now available for pre-order.  To read more about this new book, visit:

6.  Anthony Walsh & Jonathan D. Bolen, The Neurobiology of Criminal Behavior: Gene-Brain-Culture Interaction , Ashgate (2012).

7.  Michael Pardo & Dennis Patterson, Morse, Mind, and Mental Causation , Crim Law and Philos (2014).

8.  Susan A. Bandes & Jessica M. Salerno, Emotion, Proof and Prejudice: The Cognitive Science of Gruesome Photos and Victim Impact Statements , 46 Arizona State Law Journal (2014).

9.  Nina Koivula, Nina Ferreira, Petar Lozev, Franziska Böhlke, Birgit Thun, Janika Bockmeyer, & Jan Smits, Neurolaw , MaRBLe Research Papers, Volume V (2014).

10.  Adriana Galván, Insights about Adolescent Behavior, Plasticity, and Policy from Neuroscience Research, 83(2) Neuron 262 (2014).

B.  Neurolaw Media & News Clippings

1.  Network YouTube Channel: The MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience is pleased to announce the launch of the YouTube channel, available at The channel features videos from each of the Research Network’s three most recent Education and Outreach events:

a)     Colloquium for Federal Judges on Law, Neuroscience, and Criminal Justice
b)     The Future of Law and Neuroscience
c)     Colloquium on Law, Neuroscience, and Criminal Justice

2.  The Golden Age of Neuroscience Has Arrived: The Wall Street Journal recently published an opinion piece by Michio Kaku titled, “The Golden Age of Neuroscience Has Arrived.” To read the full piece, visit:

3.  Podcast on “The Punisher’s Brain”: Judge Morris Hoffman, Member of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience, was recently interviewed about his new book The Punisher’s Brain: The Evolution of Judge and Jury (Cambridge University Press) by Dr. Raj Persaud, a Fellow of The Royal College of Psychiatrists. To access the podcast, visit:

C.  Conferences & Speaker Series

  1. International Neuroethics Society Annual Meeting: The International Neuroethics Society will convene experts from around the world in Washington, D.C. on November 13 & 14, 2014. Sessions focus on the latest on the US BRAIN Initiative and the European Commission Human Brain Project, international case studies of neuroscience in the courtroom, and human rights in the neuroethics dialogue.  Speakers include NIH Directors, Congressman Chaka Fattah, co-director of the Human Brain Project Henry Markram with many more.  See the schedule at
  2. Call for Papers: The Journal of Science and Law is a new peer-reviewed, open-access journal edited by Dr. David Eagleman. Many of today’s policy questions require an interdisciplinary approach, drawing upon fields such as neuroscience, biology, and statistics. JSciLaw addresses this by serving as a forum for scholarship at the intersection of scientific research and legal policy. It aims to encourage collaboration between scientific researchers, legal scholars, and policy makers. To read the full Call for Papers, visit or contact the editorial board at


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