Recently there has been a push to admit functional MRI data as evidence in court cases. For example, could you use this type of imaging to prove someone is lying? Or could a brain scan show you that a defendant is unable to respond normally to emotions and should therefore not be held morally responsible for a crime? The problem with this approach is that these new technologies are sometimes fraught with the potential for error and results tend to be misinterpreted. For example, scientists once were able to convincingly image neural activity from a dead salmon using functional MRI. What are some of the risks and benefits of using brain imaging technology in court?
1. For this assignment, you will play the role of a court assistant who has been asked to gather some information about functional MRI and whether it will be admissible in court. Use the resources below to familiarize yourself with various imaging technologies and read some arguments regarding their admissibility in legal cases. Then write a 500-1000 word blog post describing your position. In your post be sure to include the following information:
What neuroscience technologies have been used in court case?
How do they work, what do they tell us about brain function?
What are the points in favor of using them as evidence?
What are the points against?
What is your recommendation?
Do not write your post in the form of question and answer, but rather as a narrative. This material should be accessible to a non-specialist. Have your father, grandmother, little brother or cousin read it and tell you if they understood it. If they didn’t, then work on it some more.
2. Post your end product on the blog by clicking your section's blog in the navigation column on the left and upload all your material as blog post.
3. Comment on two other blog posts from your peers and reply to any comments on yours.
4. Lastly, return to this page, click '+Submit Assignment' and enter the url of the blog containing your work. (Remember: Post the URL of your individual blog post, not the section's blog).