Flickering Admissibility: Neuroimaging Evidence in the U.S. Courts
This article explores the admissibility of neuroimaging evidence in U.S. courts, recognizing various trends in decisions about such evidence.
While courts have routinely admitted some neuroimages, such as CT scans and MRI, as proof of trauma and disease, they have been more circumspect about admitting the PET and SPECT scans and fMRI evidence. With the latter technologies, courts have often expressed reservations about what can be inferred from the images. Moreover, courts seem unwilling to find neuroimaging sufficient to prove either insanity or incompetency, but are relatively lenient about admitting neuroimages in death penalty hearings.
Some claim that fMRI and ‘‘brain fingerprinting’’ are able to detect deception. Other scholars argue that brain fingerprinting is a dubious concept and that fMRI is not yet sufficiently reliable. Moreover, there are substantial concerns about privacy and the perils of mind reading implicit in such technology. Yet, there is amovement to try to make these new technologies ‘‘courtroom ready’’ in the near future, raising a host of legal, policy, and ethical questions to be answered.
Jane Campbell Moriarty, Flickering Admissibility: Neuroimaging Evidence in the U.S. Courts, 26 Journal of Behavioral Sciences & the Law 29 (2008).