Neuroscience in Court: Is the Brain to Blame for Some Law Breakers?

August 29, 2012

He was once a respected pediatrician, loved by patients and their parents for over 30 years. Now Domenico Mattiello faces trial for pedophilia, accused of making sexual advances towards little girls in his care.

Scientific experts will argue in court that his damaged brain made him do it, and his lawyers will ask for leniency.

It's the latest example of how neuroscience - the science of the brain and how it works - is taking the stand and beginning to challenge society's notions of crime and punishment.

The issue has been thrown into the spotlight by new technologies, like structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) scans and DNA analysis, that can help pinpoint the biological basis of mental disorders.