Are We Ready for an Expanded Use of Neuroscientific Evidence in the Courtroom?

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Ethics book series (BRIEFSETHIC)


Evidence in the form of behavioural genetics and brain imaging has started to reach the courtroom. In this concluding chapter, the underlying validity of these methods will be examined. After review it will be determined that electroencephalography, positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging are all appropriate techniques for examining the working brain. Despite being scientifically valid, however, it does not follow automatically that the uses for which such evidence has been offered in criminal cases were necessarily justified. Based on current experience, judiciaries would be wise to wait for more robust validation of neurobiological evidence before expansion of its use. This does not mean, however, that data derived via these techniques will not be integral to criminal proceedings in the future. Before taking that step, more closely matched reference populations need to be established, and the interaction of environmental stimuli alongside genetics needs to be better understood.


Brain overclaim syndrome Christmas tree effect Determinism Ecological validity fMRI G2i Moral responsibility Reverse inference 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular and Cell BiologyUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK

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