- Published: November 29, 2012
An article from a few years ago in the Notre Dame Law Review about developmental neuroscience and the law comes to an interesting conclusion: as exciting as adolescent brain science is, its implementation in the court of law has not been very successful to date. Many have argued that the teen brain is unique developmentally, so teens should be treated uniquely in the eyes of the law. This article assessed the impact of developmental neuroscience in courts in this issue, and found that as of 2009, it really hasn't had an impact. This lack of impact has been due to a variety of factors which the article points out, concerning either legal doctrines or scientific limitations.
However, a recent New York Times article points out that (the presentation of) this neuroscientific evidence may not even be necessary to have an impact. It argues that developmental neuroscience helps explain the unique nature of the adolescent brain, but (presentation of) this is not even necessary: the basic argument is that adolescents are less mature than adults, and this alone should lead to different legal treatments. This seems to be the more logical way of approaching this issue: even if the neuroscientific evidence is not presented in court, it can still influence the law if its conclusions are argued differently.
Maroney, Terry A., The False Promise of Adolescent Brain Science in Juvenile Justice (May 18, 2009). Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 85, p. 89, 2010
Steinberg, Laurence. "Seeing Juveniles’ Maturity, and Immaturity." Nytimes.com. 6 June 2012. Web.