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It's Not My Fault! I'm a Victim of My Brain!
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FMRI_Brain_Scan.jpg

You're seeing them everywhere: pictures of brain scans. We were once limited to CT scans, which do not show much detail of the brain, but today brain imaging techniques are impressive and getting even more so (e.g. MRI, fMRI and PET scans).

 

So why not use a brain scan in a criminal defense?  In an article that appeared in Scientific American, ""My Brain Made Me Do It" Is Becoming a More Common Criminal Defense" a startling fact was made: the number of criminal cases in which brain scans were involved has gone up sharply in the past 10 years.

 

In fact, a criminal who was found guilty could later claim that his defense was inadequate because brain scans were NOT conducted and brought into consideration during trial.

 

So are we "buying it"? Could a defendant is essence say, "It wasn't me - it was my brain"? And if indeed evidence of brain injury is found, how much weight should this be given when deciding innocence or guilt (or length of sentence)? The trend is sure to continue and we as jurors are going to find ourselves having to consider the role of possible brain injury in the accused's actions.

 

 

We have a video and discussion questions you can pose to your class to help them consider this issue in more depth. Click here to go to the premium area of the community (note: you must be a member to access this activity. Not a member? Learn how to register for the community!)

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