The Royal Society (UK) promotes excellence in scientific research and has recently published a report, ‘Brain Waves: neuroscience and the law’ (Dec 2011), focussing on new findings in neuroscience and their implications for the judiciary, lawyers and policy makers.

Supported by the British Psychological Society (BPS):

“The 36-page document, which is freely available online (at, charts the rising influence of neuroscience evidence in courts of law. For example, of 722 US court cases in which neurological or behavioural genetics evidence was submitted in defence, 199 and 205 took place in 2008 and 2009, respectively, compared with 101 and 105 in 2005 and 2006.”

Brain Waves (& the Law) was chaired by Professor Emeritus of Experimental Psychology Nicholas Mackintosh at the University of Cambridge and a key  recommendation of the report was that contacts between brain researchers and lawyers should be strengthened. Furthermore, the report frames the broader implications as follows:

More broadly, progress in neuroscience is going to raise questions about personality, identity, responsibility, and liberty, as well as associated social and ethical issues. The aim of the Royal Society’s Brain Waves project is to explore what neuroscience can offer, what are its limitations, and what are the potential benefits and the risks posed by particular applications.

All Brain Waves reports are freely available @