Neuroscience research utilizes a legal test
On trial is Jimmy Moran, who a few days after he turned 18 took part in the robbery of a store during which the storeowner’s wife was shot and grievously injured. The trial is held in the courtroom of distinguished US District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who has a long-standing interest in neuroscience and how it may affect criminal law. The prosecuting and defense attorneys are also playing roles they have in real life. The trial raises questions common in such cases — is a witness lying? — how reliable is eyewitness testimony? — how to avoid a biased jury? — how well can the defendant’s intentions be judged? Alan Alda explores how brain-scanning technology is providing insights into these questions, and discusses the implications of neuroscience entering the courtroom.