MAR 13, 2019 11:00 AM PDT

Neuroethics: From Lab to Law; Neuroscience in the Courtroom

Presented at: Neuroscience 2019
C.E. Credits: P.A.C.E. CE Florida CE
  • Executive Director of the Harvard MGH Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior; Associate Professor of Law, McKnight Presidential Fellow, University of Minnesota
      Dr. Francis X. Shen, JD, PhD is the Executive Director of the Harvard MGH Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior, and an Associate Professor of Law, McKnight Presidential Fellow, and faculty member in the Graduate Program on Neuroscience at the University of Minnesota. He directs the Shen Neurolaw Lab, whose Lab motto is, "Every story is a brain story." He serves as the Executive Director of Education and Outreach for the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience, and speaks nationally and internationally to legal and scientific audiences. Dr. Shen is currently a member of the NIH Neuroethics Subgroup of the ACD BRAIN Initiative Working Group 2.0. Dr. Shen received his B.A. from the University of Chicago, his J.D. from Harvard Law School, and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. Dr. Shen conducts empirical and legal research at the intersection of law and neuroscience. He has co-authored 3 books, including the first Law and Neuroscience casebook (Aspen). He has also published articles on a range of neurolaw topics, including memory and lie detection, cognitive enhancement, criminal justice, brain injury, evidentiary admissibility, sports concussion, juror decision-making, criminal mental states, dementia, and mental health. He also teaches and writes on artificial intelligence and the law. He is currently a co-lead PI on a Neuroethics administrative supplement grant exploring the ethical implications of mobile neuroimaging by embedding neuroethics research into the parent NIH BRAIN grant "Imaging Human Brain Function with Minimal Mobility Restrictions" (Mike Garwood, PI). In Minnesota, Dr. Shen is leading a statewide effort to improve youth sports concussion policy.


    The implications of NIH BRAIN research stretch beyond traditional medical and research contexts. This LabRoots session will present recent developments at the intersection of neuroscience and law, with a focus on the introduction of neuroscientific evidence in United States courtrooms. Brain evidence has played a role in landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases; is being regularly considered in many types of criminal and civil cases, and touches on issues such as lie detection, addiction, brain injury, memory, trauma, and more. There is much promise for neuroscience and law. For example brain science might allow: criminal law to reduce recidivism and treat offenders more humanely; tort law to better differentiate between those in real pain and those who are faking; and insurance law to more accurately and adequately compensate those with mental illness. Yet the promise of brain science must be balanced against the perils of premature and inappropriate uses. There is an imperative to determine proper standards for the ethical use of neuroscience in law.

    After this session, participants will be able to: Appreciate the emerging field of neurolaw, and the many ways in which neuroscience might affect law; Understand the ways in which neuroscience is being proffered as evidence in criminal and civil contexts; Recognize basic concerns about the use of neuroscientific evidence in courtroom proceedings; and Discuss the promises and limitations of future uses of neuroscience in law.

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