Brain Waves Module 4 - Brain Waves Module 4 Neuroscience...

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Brain Waves Module 4: Neuroscience and the law December 2011
Cover image: This diagram of the cerebellum (a structure at the bottom of the brain) shows the amygdala, which plays an important role in reward and emotion processing. The early development of the amygdala relative to other brain areas is thought to account for the heightened emotional responses and risky behaviour characteristic of adolescence. Image from Anatomy, descriptive and surgical , Henry Gray, edited by T.Pickering Pick and Robert Howden,1977, New York. RS Policy document 05/11 Issued: December 2011 DES2420 ISBN: 978-0-85403-932-6 © The Royal Society, 2011 Requests to reproduce all or part of this document should be submitted to: The Royal Society Science Policy Centre 6 – 9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG T +44 (0)20 7451 2500 E [email protected] W royalsociety.org
Brain Waves Module 4: Neuroscience and the law Contents Summary v Working Group Membership vii Acknowledgements ix 1 Introduction 1 1.1 Terms of reference 2 2 Key concepts and techniques in neuroscience 3 2.1 Linking brain, mind and behaviour 3 2.2 Individual differences and the role of genes and the environment 3 2.3 Techniques used in neuroscience 4 2.4 Some cautionary words on interpreting neuroscienti fi c data 5 3 Generic challenges in applying neuroscience to the law 11 3.1 The intersection of neuroscience and the law 11 3.2 De fi ning Responsibility 11 Box 1: A neuroscienti fi c perspective on brain development and criminal responsibility 13 3.3 The use of neuroscience in court 14 Box 2: Orbitofrontal tumour and ‘acquired paedophilia’ 15 Box 3: Admissibility of expert scienti fi c evidence 16 Brain Waves 4 I December 2011 I iii The Royal Society
4 Speci fi c challenges facing the application of neuroscience to some key legal issues 19 4.1 Risk 20 4.2 Deception 25 4.3 Memory 26 4.4 Pain 29 4.5 Non-Accidental Head Injury (NAHI) 30 5 Recommendations 33 5.1 Bridging the gap 33 5.2 Training and Education 34 5.3 Building applied research capacity 34 6 Further reading 35 iv I December 2011 I Brain Waves 4 The Royal Society
Summary The human brain is not viewed in the same way as other organs. The brain holds the key to mind and behaviour, and so to most it has a ‘special’ status. The relatively young fi eld of neuroscience is the study of the brain and nervous system. Neuroscientists seek to determine how brain function affects behaviour. The law is concerned with regulating behaviour, and so it is reasonable to ask whether and if so how, neuroscience could, or should, inform the law. The Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science, has sought here to set out where neuroscience might offer insights to the law, and current limits to its application. Many questions have been asked about what neuroscience might offer for the law. For instance, might neuroscience fundamentally change concepts of legal responsibility? Or could aspects of a convicted person’s brain help to determine whether they are at an increased risk of reoffending? Will it ever be possible to use brain scans to ‘read minds’, for instance

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