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Incorporating Neurology Data into the Legal System


Narrator:    This is Science Today. There's been debate over the years about whether or not adolescents should be held responsible for their behavior.

   So, for example, a child who commits a crime at the age of sixteen - is that a child who should be treated as an adult and put in prison for life? Or is it a child who still has a potential for remediation and still should be considered a child in the eyes of the law?

    Psychologist Silvia Bunge of the University of California, Berkeley has recently discovered that an adolescent's pre-frontal cortex - the area of the brain involved in decision making - is not as developed as an adult's. Bunge is part of the new Law and Neuroscience Project, which has neurobiologists working to incorporate neurology data into the legal system.

Bunge:    So, maybe this research on the developing brain can help us eventually modify laws to take into consideration the fact that the brain is still changing quite a bit throughout our early twenties.

   For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.