What do Lawyers, Judges, and Policymakers Need to Know about Brain Science?

Neuroscience – the scientific fields of inquiry dealing with the brain and nervous system – has played a part in legal proceedings for over a century. It featured prominently in the mid-20th century in cases that argued against laws denying rights to epileptics. In 1981, the defense team for would-be presidential assassin John Hinkley used CT scans of his brain to bolster its case that he suffered from schizophrenia. He was ultimate found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Technological advancements over the course of 20th and 21st centuries have led to a greater variety of neuroscientific evidence being introduced in courts around the world. Lawyers, Judges, and Policymakers have to consider the best uses of brain science information in the context of relevant legal standards for scientific information, including the Daubert and Frye Rules.

Brain Science for Lawyers, Judges, and Policymakers was written to account for the rapidly changing legal landscape. Co-authored by Owen Jones, the Glenn M. Weaver, M.D. and Mary Ellen Weaver Chair in Law, Brain, and Behavior at Vanderbilt Law School; Director of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience; and Director of the Weaver Family Program in Law, Brain Sciences, and Behavior, the book provides a comprehensive and accessible overview of developments in legally relevant neuroscience.

“Readers will learn brain science terms, how to understand and discuss brain structure and function in legally relevant contexts, and how to avoid over- or under-interpreting neuroscientific evidence,” said Jones.

Brain Science starts with a review of neuroscience’s current place in the legal world, along with descriptions of brain structures and functions. It also provides accessible introductions to modern brain-scanning technologies, includes observations on the future of “neurolaw,” and details some cautions and limitations.

“For litigators, legislators, and judges, the book offers a useful tool to better understand this rapidly evolving field and its potential use in law and policymaking,” said Jones.

Brain Science for Lawyers, Judges, and Policymakers, published by Oxford University Press, was written by Owen D. Jones, neuroscientist Jeffrey D. Schall of York University, Francis X. Shen of the University of Minnesota Law School, Judge Morris B. Hoffman, and neuroscientist Anthony D. Wagner of Stanford University.

It is available for purchase on Amazon.