- Published: November 21, 2012
- Written by Alicia Jones
In the discussion of where to draw legal "bright lines," neuroscientific evidence is often cited as reasons for particular cutoffs in cases such as the legal drinking age. Certainly, neuroscience can offer much in the way of the brian information in making decisions, but some hold that the decision should ultimately lie with the legislators involved.
This point of view does make sense. Science answers many questions and is a powerful tool in determining where legal bright lines should be drawn. That said, there is also a strong force of culture that will at times oppose the conclusions one could draw from neuroscience. The policy makers often find a balance between scientific findings and cultural expectations. The United States drinking age being 21, for example, balances between developmental findings and cultural expectations of being allowed to drink once an "adult." There is some concern in the article that science might one day "dictate" policy.
However, there must also be caution from the neuroscience field in terms of policy-making. Laws can always be changed, for example, and there is a push to lower the legal drinking age in America to 18, such as it was in the past. While cultural…