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By Kathryn Kopchik
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Neuroscientist and author David Eagleman will give the talk, "Neuroscience and the Law," Thursday, March 10, at 7 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell University.
The talk, which is free and open to the public, is the fourth event in the University's Social Science Colloquium series, "Emerging Minds: Seeking Meaning in a Physical World."
Eagleman holds joint appointments in the departments of neuroscience and psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine, where he directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action. He is also the founder and director of Baylor College of Medicine's Initiative on Neuroscience and Law.
Free will and criminal behavior
In his talk, Eagleman will address "the emerging questions at the interface of law and neuroscience which challenge our fundamental notions of free-will and the presumptions that lie at the heart of criminal behavior and punishment."
He asks, "Is it a legitimate defense, for example, to claim that a brain tumor or genetic mutation 'made you do it' offering a better prediction of recidivism? Can novel technologies such as real-time brain imaging be leveraged for new methods of rehabilitation? If most behaviors are driven by systems of the brain that we cannot control, how should the law assess culpability?
"I will address these and other questions through the lens of BCM's Initiative on Neuroscience and Law, which brings together a unique collaboration of neurobiologists, legal scholars and policy makers, with the goal of building modern, evidence-based policy," he said.
Eagleman is the author of several neuroscience books, including Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia (co-authored with Richard Cytowic, MIT Press) and the upcoming The Secret Life of the Unconscious Brain (Pantheon, 2011).
He also has written an internationally bestselling book of literary fiction, Sum, which has been translated into 22 languages and was named a Best Book of 2009 by Barnes & Noble, New Scientist and the Chicago Tribune.
He has written for The New York Times, Discover Magazine, Slate, Wired and New Scientist, and he appears regularly on National Public Radio and BBC to discuss both science and literature.
"This yearlong series has explored the nature of the mind with talks by key scholars," said series coordinator Joseph Tranquillo, assistant professor of biomedical and electrical engineering at Bucknell.
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