- Parent Category: Content Page
- Published: October 7, 2006
class will not be taught in 2013 while we re-design the curriculum for wider dissemination and continuing legal education credit
Readings for Neurolaw class
Aug 22: Introduction to main topics: Responsibility, competency, prediction of criminal behavior, and the neural basis of law and punishment
- Chapters 1-3, Incognito
- Neurolaw. New York Times Magazine
Aug 29: NO SCHEDULED CLASS (DR. EAGLEMAN OUT OF TOWN)
- Chapters 4-6, Incognito
Sep 5: Background: Genetics, Behavior and Law
- Greeley H (2009). Law and the Revolution in Neuroscience. Akron Law Review. 42:687.
- Chorvat T, McCabe K (2004). The Law and the Brain. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 359:1727-1736.
- Jones O (2006). Behavioral Genetics and Crime. Law & Contemporary Problems. 69:81.
- Optional reading: Jones, O (2005). Law and Behavioral Biology. Columbia Law Review, Vol. 105, pp. 405-502.
- Optional reading: Caspi and Moffitt (2006) Gene-environment interactions in psychiatry: joining forces with neuroscience. Nature Neuroscience.
- Optional reading: Caspi et al (2003). Influence of Life Stress on Depression: Moderation by a Polymorphism in the 5-HTT Gene. Science 301, 386
Sep 12: The neuroscience of decision making (including the frontal cortex and limbic system: the neuroscience of morality, aggression and empathy)
- Sapolsky, R. The frontal cortex and the criminal justice system. Phil Trans Royal Soc B. 359(1451): 1787-1796
- Greene J, Haidt J (2002). How (and where) does moral judgment work? Trends Cogn Sci. 2002 Dec 1;6(12):517-523
- Greene JD et al (2001). An fMRI investigation of emotional engagement in moral judgment. Science. 293: 2105-2108
Sep 19: Mental illness and the insanity defense
- First 7 pages of Chapter 1 in Crime, punishment, and mental illness: law and the behavioral sciences in conflict by Patricia E. Erickson and Steven K. Erickson. Rutgers University Press, 2008.
Sep 26: Psychopaths: Brains and behavior
- Blair RJR (2010). Neuroimaging of Psychopathy and Antisocial Behavior: A Targeted Review. Current Psychiatry Reports.
- Yang YY, Glenn AL, Raine A (2008). Brain Abnormalities in Antisocial Individuals: Implications for the Law. Behavioral Sciences and the Law. 26: 65-83.
- Koenigs et al (2007). Damage to the prefrontal cortex increases utilitarian moral judgments. Nature.
- Optional reading: Kiehl K (2006). A cognitive neuroscience perspective on psychopathy: Evidence for paralimbic system dysfunction. Psychiatry Research, 142, 107-128.
Oct 3: NO SCHEDULED CLASS (DR. EAGLEMAN OUT OF TOWN)
Oct 10: What happens when evidence in the courtroom involves the brain?
- Yang YY, Glenn AL, Raine A (2008). Brain Abnormalities in Antisocial Individuals: Implications for the Law. Behavioral Sciences and the Law. 26: 65-83. [NB: Only read the last section of the paper, beginning with "The Use of Brain Imaging in Legal Defenses"] (also revisit Kiehl paper)
- Abe et al (2008). Neural Correlates of True Memory, False Memory, and Deception. Cerebral Cortex.
- Bles and Haynes (2008). Detecting concealed information using brain-imaging technology. Neurocase,14:1,82-92.
- Nature Neuroscience Editorial: Deceiving the Law
- "Duped" - New Yorker article on fMRI lie detection - Margaret Talbot
- Wells GL, Quinlivan DS (2009). Suggestive Eyewitness Identification Procedures and the Supreme Court’s Reliability Test in Light of Eyewitness Science. Law Hum Behav. 33:1-24. [a surprise that the legal doctrine has not caught up with the neuroscience]
Oct 17: The brain of the juror
- Buckholtz JW et al (2008). The neural correlates of third-party punishment. Neuron. 60:930–940
- Hein G & Singer T (2008). I feel how you feel but not always: the empathic brain and its modulation. Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 18:153–158.
- Optional reading: Greene JD (2003). From neural ‘is’ to moral ‘ought’: what are the moral implications of neuroscientific moral psychology? Nature.
- Optional reading: Woodward J, Allman J (2007). Moral intuition: Its neural substrates and normative significance. Journal of Physiology-Paris. 101:179-202.
- Optional reading: Yamada M et al (2012). Neural circuits in the brain that are activated when mitigating criminal sentences. Nature Communications. 3:759.
Oct 24: Predicting recidivism
- Hanson RK, Morton-Bourgon KE (2005). The Characteristics of Persistent Sexual Offenders: A Meta-Analysis of Recidivism Studies. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 73(6): 1154-1163.
- Profiling extraordinary acts of crime: Secret Service report on School Shootings: can we predict who will become a killer?
- Criminal profiling: Dangerous Minds - New Yorker article by Malcolm Gladwell
Oct 31: Rehabilitation
- Spadling (1998). Florida's chemical castration law: a return to the Dark Ages
- Weinberger et al (2005). Impact of surgical castration on sexual recidivism
- Eagleman et al (2010). Why Neuroscience Matters for a Rational Drug Policy.
Nov 7: Eyewitness Testimony
- Oyarzun & Packard (2012). Stress-Induced Gist-Based Memory Processing: A Possible Explanation for Overgeneralization of Fear in Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Journal of Neuroscience.
- Wise, Fishman, Safer (2009). How to Analyze the Accuracy of Eyewitness Testimony in a Criminal Case. Connecticut Law Review.
Nov 14: Special Guest lecturer: George Parnham, J.D.
Criminal defense attorney George Parnham has been the lead defense counsel for such high-profile clients as Andrea Yates and Clara Harris. He will tell us about the defense of individuals with mental illness, and his advocacy for legal reform of their treatment in the criminal justice system.
Lecture: "The Insanity Defense: A View from the Defense Table"
(No reading for today)
Nov 19: Which punishments work?, Structuring Incentives, Civil Law, and Semester Wrap-Up
Analyzing the efficacy of punishment:
- Death Penalty Deters Murders - News story
- Levitt SD (2004). Understanding Why Crime Fell in the 1990s: Four Factors That Explain the Decline and Six That Do Not. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 18(1): 163-190.
Neuroscience, contracts, and regulation -- how to "debias" society with proper law-making:
- Jolls C (2007). Behavioral Law and Economics. In Behavioral Economics and Its Applications, Diamond and Vartiainen, Eds. Princeton University Press.
- Camerer C, Issacharoff S, Loewenstein G, O’Donoghue T, Rabin M (2003). Regulation for conservatives: Behavioral economics and the case for “asymmetric paternalism.” University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 1151, 1211-1254.
Nov 28: The neurolaw plays and mock trial will be performed in class
Final projects (Nov 28 - Dec 5)
The final project is an opportunity to more deeply explore a Neurolaw topic of interest. Choose 1 of 3 options:
Drill deeply into a neurolaw issue of interest to you. Your topic does not necessarily need to be something we covered in class, but must convincingly be relevant to the intersection of neuroscience and law.
Take this assignment as an opportunity to explore in depth the science and the legal precedent behind your topic. Roughly speaking, your research should be about half science and half law -- but this can vary widely depending on your specific topic. Use your judgment on that. Convince me that you've read and understood the relevant material from both fields. Needless to say, don't plagiarize. It'll be easy for me to catch that.
In the best case, I'd like you to propose a scientific experiment (or series of experiments) whose results could be used to improve the functioning of the legal system. The experiment can be feasible or hypothetical, but must be defensible and well-reasoned, both in its design and possible conclusions.
2) Write and perform a 15 minute neurolaw play
Groups of 4 - 5 people
An acted narrative that deeply explores one or more issues, including legal precedent and procedure
3) Participate in a 45 minute neurolaw mock trial
Up to 10 people
Deeply explore one or more issues, including legal precedent and procedure
Will be coordinated by a practicing attorney
Dec 5: Final papers due. Please submit these as an attachment in Owlspace (or by email to for non-Rice students)
Dec 7: Final exam for Rice students on Owlspace. Log in to take the exam anytime between 9 am - 9 pm that day. Expected time to complete the exam: 90 minutes.