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Neuroscience in the Courtroom: “My brain made me do it”?

Rapid advances in the field of neuroscience hold great promise and great peril: are we ready to accept what the data is revealing? Throughout history, scientific discoveries have continually forced us to rethink how we see the world, and the process is often… uncomfortable, to say the least. We’re reticent to move out of our mold, to accept that something we saw as obvious is actually more complicated (or simpler) than we imagined. When we think back on theories like geocentrism, Aristotelian physics, and spontaneous generation, it’s easy for us to scoff at such silly beliefs. But do you feel the same way about your brain? What if I threw a concept like free will into that list of debunked theories? Suddenly you might be feeling a little more uncomfortable…

 

An ‘Awesome’ Interview

Recently, I sat down with Dr. William Krenzer, a post-doc here at Duke inside the Science, Law, and Policy Lab, affectionately known as SLAPLAB. William’s doctoral work focused on the emotion of awe: what is it, how we can measure it, and where can we leverage this feeling for our benefit. We had a fascinating conversation that ranged widely, touching on topics as disparate as electroencephalograms, Immanuel Kant, and how to appreciate trees.