Neuroscience and Law in a Nutshell

The term neuroscience is currently used to refer to a bundle of disciplines which study the relationships between human brain, mental activity, and behavior. Promising to explain operations of the mind in terms of the physical operations of the brain, neuroscience has received great attention by the scientific, legal and philosophical communities. The international legal debate has focused especially on possible uses of neuro-techniques for forensic purposes. The greatest enthusiasm has been displayed in the United States, where a worldwide-discussed case law has developed, and wide initiatives, such as the Law and Neuroscience Project funded by Mc Arthur Foundation, have been launched. The peculiarity of acquisition of scientific evidence in US proceedings, where the onus to bring scientific evidence before the courts is on parties, is probably one of the reasons why the US is leading the way. Interest in the legal implications of neuroscience has developed also in the European context, where various projects have recently been launched. One of them is the European Association for Neuroscience and Law (EANL), led by the University of Pavia (Italy) and involving neuroscientists, legal scholars, and ethicists from UK, Italy, Belgium, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Spain, and partnerships with US, Canada and Australia. The purpose of these projects is mainly to discuss the implications of new neuroscientific findings on different legal systems in a comparative, interdisciplinary and international context.
This article briefly describes the current hot topics at the interface between neuroscience and the law.

Read more