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A Disconnect Between Law and Neuroscience: Modern Brain Science, Media Influences, and Juvenile Justice

25 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2005  

Kevin W. Saunders

Michigan State University College of Law

Abstract

Modern brain science has discovered a second period of physical development of the brain in the adolescent years. Paralleling the cognitive development of infancy and early childhood, the judgmental and inhibitory regions of the brain go through a process of synaptic overblooming and later paring in this later period of life. Just as environment affects cognitive development, it appears it also has an effect on judgment and inhibition. This has consequences that should influence the development of the law. First, if environment affects which synapses remain in the developed brain and later influence judgment, there is greater reason to be concerned about the media environment children face. Second, if children are unable to make adult judgments and inhibit their actions, rather than simply being unwilling to do so, that should speak in favor of a juvenile justice system that recognizes that juvenile offenders may be more amendable to rehabilitation than adults.

Suggested Citation

Saunders, Kevin W., A Disconnect Between Law and Neuroscience: Modern Brain Science, Media Influences, and Juvenile Justice. Utah Law Review, Vol. 2005, pp. 695-741, 2005; MSU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 03-12 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=815244

Kevin W. Saunders (Contact Author)

Michigan State University College of Law ( email )

318 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
United States

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