Baylor College of Medicine’s Initiative on Neuroscience and Law addresses how new discoveries in neuroscience should navigate the way we make laws, punish criminals, and develop rehabilitation. The project brings together a unique collaboration of neurobiologists, legal scholars, ethicists, medical humanists, and policy makers, with the goal of running experiments that will result in modern, evidence-based policy.
Emerging questions at the interface of law and neuroscience include: Is it a legitimate defense to claim that a brain tumor ‘made you do it’? Do the brains of minors have the same decision-making and impulse control as adult brains – and how does that change punishment? Can novel technologies such as brain imaging be leveraged for rehabilitation? How should juries assess responsibility, given that most behaviors are driven by systems of the brain that we cannot control?
In conjunction with study and development of policy, the initiative will fuel the development of new technologies for diagnosis and rehabilitation – for example, describing neural signatures that predict recidivism, and developing feedback in real-time brain imaging as a strategy for rehabilitation.
The Initiative is directed by David Eagleman, PhD, who holds joint appointments in the Neuroscience and Psychiatry departments at Baylor College of Medicine.