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Is The Mind Admissible?

An MRI scan of the human brain. (Wikipedia)

An MRI scan of the human brain. (Wikipedia)

As our understanding of the brain evolves, and technology such as f-MRI analysis advances, should brain scans be admissible in court? Could they be used to tell who is lying and who is telling the truth?

Should they be allowed as evidence of suffering? Might they be used to free the innocent and convict the guilty?


Nancy Kanwisher, professor in the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT.


You can learn more about the debate about neuroscience in the courtroom from the PBS program Brains on Trial. You can also read this article in Pacific Standard.

Part One

Part Two



Other stories from this show:

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  • Philip Kousoubris

    Horrible idea to allow current fMRI scans in the courtroom- like the old polygraph, postprocessing, interpretation, and even software varies from center to center even if results are reproducible and somewhat accurate. It will be commoditized. Better idea is to start paying for fMRI in the hospital – which is what Im currently doing reading brain tumor perfusion studies while listening to this program- instead of another boston area VC fueled tech startup get-rich-quick (bad) idea. Give the technology another decade (quantum computed pseudo-AI generated parametric maps?), and a lot of real world practice runs before slowly introducing it into any courtroom. Great topic for thought though.

  • J__o__h__n

    She was fascinating. Please have her on again.

  • fun bobby

    the precrime unit will love it

  • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

    I would like to see a study comparing the brain architecture of those who believe in and rely on punishment and revenge vs those who believe in and rely on non-violent and non-punitive methods of therapy to correct erratic practices.

    In particular, is it possible for those who subscribe to non-violent and non-punitive techniques to transfer their ways to those who subscribe to punitive and retributive methods of addressing misconduct?

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