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Law and Neuroscience

New techniques such as brain-scanning have dramatically accelerated our ability to learn about how brains work. This deepening knowledge has serious implications for the legal system, as law parses responsibility for behavior, dispenses justice, and assesses injuries. For example, brain scans are increasingly offered as evidence in civil and criminal litigation. This course provides an introduction to what future lawyers need to know about the brain. We will begin by exploring the most up-to-date understandings of how brains function. We will then explore how brain functioning can be impaired by injuries and disease -- as well as enhanced by drugs and other techniques. Against the important background of how law and science increasingly interact with one another, we will then consider the legal implications of brain sciences for a number of areas of law, including litigation, evidence, assessments of criminal responsibility, lie detection, determining brain death, and the like. A background in science is not required and is not assumed.