Archive for September, 2013
Neuroscience will be playing a significant part in society in the near future. It is one field that people are currently keeping an eye on as it has a possibility of greatly affecting the country’s laws. As part of the hype surrounding neuroscience, Washington DC played host to the non-profit institute Future Tense’s “My Brain Made Me Do It” event last October 22, 2012 which featured how neuroscience will shape the legal system.
Of course, changes won’t be as radical as people make it out to be. One of the things to look out for is the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). This procedure allows people to detect brain activity and which area of the brain is more active in a certain scenario, allowing us to determine a person’s mental health. Although used for several years now, there still has a lot to be learned regarding this procedure. Aside from this, neuroscience will also provide us with several tools that could help transform the legal system. For example, scanners that could read minds to some degree; it can give someone an idea that a person wants to eat, but it won’t be able to tell you exactly what that person is craving for or what type of sandwich they want to have. There is also the possibility of an fMRI-based lie detection test which can improve the existing polygraph testing.
However, we cannot be able to depend on such tools alone. As mentioned, these so-called tools have limitations. Still, the best way to tell what an individual wants to do is by actual observation. For instance, it would be impossible to base a final diagnosis of insanity on such tools alone because a person’s behavior may show otherwise. The person in question may demonstrate normal behavior which can deem whatever findings you have from a tool irrelevant. Same goes for a person about to stand trial. One can never decide whether or not a person is sound enough to appear in court based only on tools produced by neuroscience. Further evaluation will still be needed.
And although these tools can only work to some extent, there is no denying that these can still be very useful. Someone charged with pedophile, for example. Neuroscience might help us discover that his impulses are actually caused by a tumor in the brain and help a court decide on whether the defendant should be given a lengthy jails sentence or be sent to undergo surgical treatment.