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Since ancient philosophers first began to ponder the problem of criminal behavior, great minds in science and law have sought a single holy grail, the point at which the two fields intersect: What nervous or brain dysfunctions can explain how people become so incapacitated that they are not responsible for their own criminal behavior?

The latest candidate is neuroscience. With functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRIs), positron emission tomography (PET scans) and other related methods, scientists can observe the brain in action as it responds to various forms of stimuli. Yet this is an obscure, highly specialized world; group studies in a laboratory, most scientists maintain, cannot yet be applied to the behavior of an individual, especially an individual’s commission of a violent crime.

The latest person to offer his services as guide in this regard is Kevin Davis, in “The Brain Defense: Murder in Manhattan and the Dawn of Neuroscience in America’s Courtrooms.” Davis, a veteran Chicago reporter, is the author of two previous books, “The Wrong Man” (1996), an engrossing true crime account of a mentally challenged man falsely convicted of a savage murder in Florida, and the brilliant “Defending the Damned” (2007)

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Image: By The original uploader was Marvin 101 at German Wikipedia(Original text: benutzer:marvin_101) – selbst, CC BY-SA 2.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3735089

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