Courts concern when the science of the human

Courts in the United States, considering criminal cases, faced a wave of new defense arguments. The accused and their lawyers argue that the crimes were committed not by the free will of the defendant, but because of the neurobiological features of his brain.Nita Farahani, a professor of law and a member of the group of advisers on bioethics under the US president, said at a recent meeting of the Neurobiological Society that defendants use arguments from the field of neuroscience, proving that they can not be fully responsible for murders and other serious crimes.The reference to the limited capacity of the defendant with the results of scanning the brain as evidence is not a new tactic of defense. After analyzing the 1,500 cases resolved between 2005-2012, Farahani was able to find out that the side of the defense is now increasingly trying to prove, in fact, that the defendants’ brain compelled them to commit a crime that had never been seen before.In the United States, the increase in the number of so-called neurolaw cases caused serious concern when the science of the human brain was first used in the murder case. The US Supreme Court has already begun reviewing the rules for the provision of evidence of this kind in criminal cases. At the same time, both legal experts and scientists believe that the use of “neurobiological” arguments will spread in other jurisdictions.During the analysis of the cases conducted by Farahani, there were even cases when the defendants demanded to exclude their confession from the case, because they, the defenders said, go beyond the capacity of the defendants due to the peculiarities of their brain. “When people present such arguments, the court often accepts them,” says Farahani.However, so far only in isolated cases neurobiological expertise is capable of influencing the verdict. For example, in 2009, a resident of Italy, Stefania Albertani, during the trial in Milan, pleaded guilty to having killed her sister, and then tried to kill her parents. She was sentenced to life imprisonment, but in 2011 Judge Louise de Gatto studied new circumstances based on brain scans and various genetic studies. Experts argued that Albertani’s crimes were motivated by changes in her brain, namely in the frontal part of the cingulate gyrus (it affects the impulsiveness of the person) and in the so-called islet (associated with aggression). The term of imprisonment was eventually reduced to 20 years.The number of processes in which protection refers to neurobiological data is growing steadily. According to the British newspaper The Guardian, since 2005 there have been 30 such trials for serious crimes (for all crimes – about 100), and in 2012 – more than 100 for serious crimes and about 250 in total.The evidence was very different – from head trauma to structural and functional abnormalities recorded during brain scanning. Lawyers claimed that such violations made their clients prone to violence, more impulsive, or unable to plan crimes (this is a sign, for example, of first-degree murder with the US). Some accused managed to avoid the death penalty due to neurobiology; There were also cases of complaints against lawyers who did not conduct brain research on their client in search of violations.Since neuroscience is a relatively young science, Farahani believes that all participants in the process should understand as soon as possible how to limit the use of its methods in criminal trials. “Legal science already asks questions that neuroscience can not answer, but the latter answers the questions that the law does not ask,” says Nigel Eastman, professor of law and ethics in psychiatry at the University of London.-You can not link a dynamic brain scan and the category of responsibility.If you look at the functional images of the brains of psychopaths, you will find that as a whole as a group such people have certain minor violations, but this does not mean that you can take an individual, rovesti scan and then claim “oh, it abnormal brain!”.Either way, cases in which disturbances in the brain give rise to criminal behavior are known. In 2002, Russell Sverdlow and Jeffrey Burns, neuroscientists at the University of Virginia, described the case of a 40-year-old school teacher who suddenly developed impulsive pedophilia; he was found by the court guilty of improper treatment of minors. The teacher agreed to undergo a course of rehabilitation, but from there he was banished because of obscene behavior. On the eve of the announcement of the verdict, this man felt a strong headache and could not hold fast to his feet. He was taken to a hospital where he found a tumor in his brain the size of an egg. And when the tumor was removed, obscene and criminal desires completely disappeared. As a result, he was acquitted.But this is not the end of the story. Later, the teacher began to collect again a collection of child pornography, and when the brain was scanned, it became clear that the tumor began to grow again. And again, as for the first time, after the operation, his behavior returned to a law-abiding norm.According to common practice, criminals, not fully responsible for their actions, are punished less severely by the court, especially when it comes to objective circumstances beyond the control of the defendant. But if it turns out that the non-manifested violations in the work of his brain or his genetic peculiarities can play a decisive role, the question arises: where to draw a line between full and incomplete responsibility for one’s actions, full and partial capacity? To what extent can a person suppress the impulses arising due to the peculiarities of the higher nervous system?”The question is,” says Farahani, “how to best use the opportunities that science gives us.” If we allow abuse, attributing neurobiology to something that it does not really claim, then there will inevitably be a prejudice against such eviden