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Frontal Lobe

Brain scans have been used in a murder trial for the first time ever to try and prove that the defendant is a psychopath. The evidence was used by the defense lawyers during the sentencing of a murder trial in Chicago. The defendant, Brian Dugan, had been found guilty of the rape and murder of a 10-year-old girl and was awarded the death penalty in spite of the fMRI scans. “I don’t know of any other cases where fMRI was used in that context,” Stanford professor Hank Greely told Science. While the possibility of using fMRI data in a variety of contexts, particularly lie detection, has bounced around the margins of the legal system for years, there are almost no documented cases of its actual use. In the 2005 case Roper v. Simmons, the Supreme Court allowed brain scans to be entered as evidence to show that adolescent brains work differently than adult brains. That’s a far cry, though, from using fMRI to establish the truth of testimony or that specific structures within an individual defendant’s brain are legally relevant.
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