Date of Graduation

Fall 2016

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

Major

Biology

Research Sponsor

Dr. Kevin P. Kaut

Abstract

Neurobiological evidence in the form of brain scans (MRI images, PET images, etc.) is being introduced with increasing frequency in the courtroom as potentially mitigating evidence in criminal cases as part of an attempt to show regions of neurological abnormality affecting a defendant’s decision-making or emotional control. Empirical studies have shown two biases associated with the presentation of such evidence. One of these biases resides in that laypeople’s interpretation of such evidence may be weighted too heavily towards scientific fact – as is DNA evidence – rather than an association between a specific crime, and a brain region and its associated function. The second of these biases resides in jury members’ skepticism of expert neutrality, thus discrediting the presented evidence and prohibiting it from being factored into the decision process, as it should. In lieu of previous studies, this review will outline relevant findings that lead to the proposal of a novel delivery of neuroimaging in the courtroom to decrease the layman’s perceived bias.

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