The Brain on the Stand: Neuroscience and the Law

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Google Community Space

188 The Embarcadero · San Francisco , CA

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When you arrive, ring the doorbell and tell reception you're here for Mini Law School.

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Dr. Charles Vella will review some of the legal implications of our expanded knowledge of brain functioning and human cognition. Neuroscience has been creeping into the nation’s courtrooms with greater frequency, introducing neuroimaging, etc. We will look at how advances in neuroscience are shaping our understanding of moral and legal choices. The US legal system is premised on notions of moral agency, free will and individual responsibility. We punish acts that demonstrate willful intent and which violate societal notions of right and wrong. Recent developments in neuroscience suggest our mental states are fully determined by brain activity, which raises questions about the nature of free will.

Topics will include our concepts of guilt / responsibility, detection of lies / hidden prejudices, prediction of future criminal behavior, selecting ‘unprejudiced’ jurors based on their brain activity patterns, legal culpability, neurolaw, decoding thinking/reading minds, neurodiversity, self-driving cars, scientific ability to create false memories, controlling neurons with light, brain computer interfaces, eye witness testimony, neural correlates of morality, and the nature of criminal responsibility.

Dr. Vella is a clinical neuropsychologist who worked at Kaiser Permanente Hospital, Psychiatry Dept. He teaches a weekly postdoctoral course on neuropsychology in the Neuropsychology Service. He has lectured on Brain Fitness, Depression, Visual Illusions, Brain Evolution, and Human Evolution, for the Kaiser Senior Health Education Program, the Alzheimer's Association, City College, Sequoias, Rhoda Goldman, etc. You can learn more about Dr. Vella at his Website:

RSVP REQUIRED: This event venue requires us to submit a list of attendees before the event, so it's very important that you RSVP if you're thinking of coming.