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Critically Speaking

Sep 16, 2020

In this episode, Therese Markow and Dr. Francis Shen discuss the interaction between neuroscience and the law. While we do need to be cautious about bringing biology and neurobiology into the law space, there are instances where brain function does interact with the law. There have been questions about the insanity defense, how memory plays a role in criminal justice, how jurors’ perception might influence their decisions, and more. The questions are becoming more common as well when you begin asking questions regarding the aging brain and privacy protections. Neuroscience and law do not happen in a vacuum - current issues, such as the current racial injustice issues in the US and around the world, are also important to this topic and how they are relevant to different communities and groups of people. 

 Key Takeaways:

  • We don’t know what a lie is - it is not currently possible to reliably distinguish between false statements and true statements with polygraphs. 
  • There has been some reform around memory in the courtroom over the last decade informed by psychological and neuroscience. 
  • Decision-making capacity and competency are not quite the same things. Courts determine competency. Decision-making capacity is routinely made by clinicians.


"Memory is foundational to the administration of Criminal Justice and the limitations evolve, and understandable and appropriate limitations of memory, pose real problems for the criminal justice system." —  Dr. Francis Shen


Connect with Dr. Francis Shen:



Reference: The Punisher’s Brain by Morris B. Hoffman


Connect with Therese:


Twitter: @CritiSpeak



Referral: The Jordan Harbinger Show


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