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NEW YORK � Legal scholars and scientists from more than a dozen universities will examine the interaction of law and neuroscience as part of a new, first-of-its kind project. The Law and Neuroscience Project aims to bring together law and the emerging field of neuroscience to help determine how courts should deal with questions relating to issues such as guilt and innocence, punishment, bias and truth-telling. The project was made possible thanks to an initial $10 million, 3-year grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Barbara Rothstein, a former judge who is the director of the Federal Judicial Center, which educates federal judges, was among the officials present during a panel discussion at the Daniel Patrick Moynihan U.S. Court House in New York City on Tuesday afternoon that formally launched the project. “The more I do this the more I realize how science and the law are inextricably intertwined,” Rothstein said. The project will be based at the University of California at Santa Barbara and start out with three working groups. One group will examine addiction, another will look at brain abnormalities and the third will focus on decision-making. Each group will be comprised of up to 15 legal scholars, philosophers, neuroscientists and other experts. Stephen J. Morse of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, who is co-director of the Network on addiction, neuroscience, and criminal justice policy, said the project could lead to important answers about the interaction of addiction and criminal law. Forty percent of federal prisoners and 30% of state prisoners have had drug offenses, Morse said. “The work will be legal, philosophical and neuroscientific,” Morse, who specializes in mental health law and criminal law, said of the collaboration. Henry T. Greely, a professor at Stanford Law school, said developments in neuroscience could have major impact on the legal field, such as, for example, insanity defenses. “Human society and hence human law is the law about human brains,” he said. The project will be chaired by Michael S. Gazzaniga, professor of psychology at the University of California. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is the project’s honorary chair. For more information, log on to www.lawandneuroscienceproject.org.

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