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Landmark law and neuroscience network expands at Vanderbilt
Date:8/24/2011

Vanderbilt University has been awarded a $4.85 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to manage the newly established MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience.

The MacArthur Research Network on Law and Neuroscience is examining multiple effects of modern neuroscience on criminal law and trying to make neuroscience accessible and beneficial to America's courtrooms. The network will be led by Vanderbilt professor Owen Jones, who is one of the nation's few professors of both law and biology.

Main Research Focus:

The new Research Network addresses a focused set of problems in criminal justice:

Mental States: Assessing probable mental states of defendants and witnesses, such as the defendant's most likely state of mind when he committed a past bad act.

Capacity: Assessing a defendant's capacity for self-regulating his behavior or self-control.

Evidence: Assessing whether, and if so how, various kinds of neuroscientific evidence should be admitted and evaluated in individual cases.

Within these categories, researchers will conduct brain imaging and other studies to examine hot button issues such as detecting deception; detecting recognition; cognitive and brain development in adolescents; and when neuroscientific evidence, such as fMRI brain scans, should and sometimes, importantly, should not be admissible in court.

How the Network Works:

The network represents a distinct second phase of a research initiative titled The Law and Neuroscience Project, which launched in 2007. The first phase, which was co-directed and later directed by Jones, was funded by a $10 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation. It was a four-year broadly exploratory collaboration among faculty at Vanderbilt and more than two dozen leading universities.

Phase two, which includes a diverse team of legal and scientific researchers from
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Contact: Amy Wolf
amy.wolf@vanderbilt.edu
615-322-6397
Vanderbilt University
Source:Eurekalert  

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