Law and Neuroscience at Vanderbilt University
If you are interested to know more about Law and Neuroscience at Vanderbilt University, including our joint J.D. / Ph.D. in Law and Neuroscience:
Neuroscience in the courtroom
Understanding the interaction between the two seemingly disparate fields of law and neuroscience has important implications for criminal justice. Vanderbilt Law Professor Owen Jones believes that recent developments in neuroscience have had two major effects.
“First, lawyers in both criminal and civil contexts are increasingly bringing neuroscientific evidence to the courtroom, offering testimony and graphic images about the structure and function of human brains. This has created sharp new challenges for judges as they decide whether to admit such highly technical evidence and as they weigh the value of the evidence against its potentially prejudicial effect on juror deliberation,” said Jones, New York Alumni Chancellor’s Chair in Law and professor of biological sciences at Vanderbilt. “Second, the dramatic expansion of new imaging and analytic techniques has generated the hope that neuroscience, properly deployed, might help to further the goals of criminal justice,” added Jones.
MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience
Jones leads the $4.85 million grant awarded to Vanderbilt University by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to manage the newly established MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience. The Research Network addresses a focused set of closely-related problems at the intersection of neuroscience and criminal justice: 1) determining the law-relevant mental states of defendants and witnesses; 2) assessing a defendant’s capacity for self-regulating his behavior; and 3) assessing whether, and if so how, neuroscientific evidence should be admitted and evaluated in individual cases. Researchers conduct brain imaging and other studies to examine hot button issues such as detecting deception; detecting recognition; cognitive and brain development in adolescents; and when neuroscientific evidence, such as fMRI brain scans, should and sometimes, importantly, should not be admissible in court.
Vanderbilt graduate students, including law, psychology and neuroscience, have research assistance opportunities and benefit from interdisciplinary course offerings and speaker series. The Vanderbilt Interdepartmental Group in Law and Neuroscience provides a forum for interested students to explore matters at the intersection of law and neuroscience and is engaged in creating networks between similar groups at other institutions across the nation.
Vanderbilt Law School (J.D. program):
Vanderbilt Brain Institute (Ph.D. in Neuroscience):
Joint degree program: J.D. / Ph.D. in Law and Neuroscience
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