Can neurological evidence help courts assess criminal responsibility? Lessons from law and neuroscience.

Journal Article (Review;Journal Article)

Can neurological evidence help courts assess criminal responsibility? To answer this question, we must first specify legal criteria for criminal responsibility and then ask how neurological findings can be used to determine whether particular defendants meet those criteria. Cognitive neuroscience may speak to at least two familiar conditions of criminal responsibility: intention and sanity. Functional neuroimaging studies in motor planning, awareness of actions, agency, social contract reasoning, and theory of mind, among others, have recently targeted a small assortment of brain networks thought to be instrumental in such determinations. Advances in each of these areas bring specificity to the problems underlying the application of neuroscience to criminal law.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Aharoni, E; Funk, C; Sinnott-Armstrong, W; Gazzaniga, M

Published Date

  • March 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 1124 /

Start / End Page

  • 145 - 160

PubMed ID

  • 18400929

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1749-6632

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0077-8923

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1196/annals.1440.007


  • eng