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As neuroscientific technologies continue to develop and inform our understanding of the mind, the opportunities for applying neuroscience in legal proceedings have also increased.
Cognitive neuroscientists have deepened our understanding of the complex relationship between the mind and the brain by using new techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG).
The inferences drawn from these findings and increasingly sophisticated technologies are being applied to debates and processes in the legal field, from lie detection in criminal trials to critical legal doctrines surrounding the insanity defense or guilt adjudication.
In Minds, Brains, and Law: The Conceptual Foundations of Law and Neuroscience, Michael S. Pardo and Dennis Patterson assess the philosophical questions that arise when neuroscientific research and technology are applied in the legal system.
They examine the arguments favoring the increased use of neuroscience in law, the means for assessing its reliability in legal proceedings, and the integration of neuroscientific research into substantive legal doctrines.
The authors use their explorations to inform a corrective inquiry into the mistaken inferences and conceptual errors that arise from mismatched concepts, such as the mental disconnect of what constitutes "lying" on a lie detection test. The empirical, practical, ethical, and conceptual issues that Pardo and Patterson seek to redress will deeply influence how we negotiate and implement the fruits of neuroscience in law and policy in the future.