Once fMRI technology becomes well-recognized as a source for previously-unavailable information among the public, it is foreseeable that individuals will begin enlisting the services of commercial companies, such as No Lie MRI, to analyze relational issues. Specifically, it is interesting to think about how this technology could be used in a court of law concerning divorce, especially in the case of child-custody battles.
Marriage is an interesting social construction involving a legal agreement between two individuals who have likely significantly invested in one another on an emotional level and pledge to continue to do so before the state and accompanying witnesses. Often within marriage a family is formed. Childrens’ time-allocation between parents can be a point of contention upon legal separation.
Because children’s development and behavior is shaped so strongly by their social interactions with parents, the neurobiology of parent-child interaction is of interest in modern neuroscience. Indeed, novel fMRI technology is presently being employed to study these relationships. Swain et al. describe multiple brain regions involved in parent response to infants and young children that is critical for normal development. By analyzing the health of the nurturing hypothalamic-midbrain-limbic-paralimbic-coritical circuitry within the brains of parents competing for custody of their children, it may be possible to predict which parent has the highest probability of successful rearing of the children based on their neurobiology. Young children are especially vulnerable to environmental stimuli from their parents. Therefore, judges could begin to rely on somewhat more concrete scientific data as opposed to here-say from individual witnesses testifying for either party when designating a child’s living situation.
Finally, Pedersen claims that the quality and quantity of parental care correlates with the child’s social competency later in life. Consequently, the most nurturing environment for a child should be pursued in order to prevent a compromised capacity to choose peer-groups and successful social patterns which ultimately could lead to future involvement in criminal activity. Thus, as fMRI technology continues to advance, its implementation may find vast applications in the legal system beyond criminal and into family law.