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AAAS symposium: 'The Brain on Trial'

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AAAS Symposium, "TheBrain on Trial," for the 2010 SfN Annual Meeting
Time: 6:30 - 9:30 PM
Date: November 15, 2010
Location: Manchester Grand Hyatt, Madeline Ballroom A-D
San Diego, CA

This program is a slightly modified version of a highlysuccessful event that was held at the 2010 AAAS Annual Meeting.

The program uses a creative and entertaining format toaddress the relationship between brain structure and brain defects to behavior,particularly criminal behavior; how scientific evidence is admitted andexamined in American courts; and how neuroscience evidence and information maybe used in criminal trials.  The formatadopted is a "mock trial," with a virtual defendant on trial for murder.  There are two issues before the court: canneuroscience evidence in the form of a Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) be admitted to demonstrate a nexusbetween brain lesions and behavior, and, once admitted, do claims that brainlesions can lessen an individual's responsibility for a horrific crime provepersuasive to a jury or do the uncertainties surrounding such claims trump thealleged nexus.

 The "characters" in this mock trial will be "played" byactual representatives of the appropriate disciplines.  That is, the lawyer for the state(prosecutor) and the lawyer for the defense will be played by real lawyers, onea litigator and the other a law school professor who writes and speaks aboutneuroscience issues.  The expert for thestate and the expert for the defense will be played by two neuroscientists whoare familiar with imaging technology and its interpretation, its strengths andits limitations.  The judge will be playedby a judge from the Superior Court of Orange County,and the session will be moderated by a neuroscientist.  The audience will be the jury.

 When this program was presented at the AAAS meeting, itattracted a large audience and was one of the most successful symposia held atthat meeting.  Australian public radiorecorded the session and replayed part of it at a later date, and the programgot a favorable mention on NPR's ScienceFriday.