‘My Brain Made Me Do It.’

'My Brain Made Me Do It.'

“Criminal courts in the United States are facing a surge in the number of defendants arguing that their brains were to blame for their crimes and relying on questionable scans and other controversial, unproven neuroscience, a legal expert who has advised the president has warned.

Nita Farahany, a professor of law who sits on Barack Obama’s bioethics advisory panel, told a Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego that those on trial were mounting ever more sophisticated defenses that drew on neurological evidence in an effort to show they were not fully responsible for murderous or other criminal actions.

Lawyers typically drew on brain scans and neuropsychological tests to reduce defendants’ sentences, but in a substantial number of cases the evidence was used to try to clear defendants of all culpability. ‘What is novel is the use by criminal defendants to say, essentially, that my brain made me do it,’ Farahany said following an analysis of more than 1,500 judicial opinions from 2005 to 2012.”

— “US courts see rise in defendants blaming their brains for criminal acts,” Ian Sample, The Guardian (links added).

Related:

“Scanning Dead Salmon in fMRI Machine Highlights Risk of Red Herrings,” Alexis Madrigal, Wired

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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