criminal law; neuroscience; neurolaw


This Article presents some lessons learned while offering expert testimony on neuroscience in courts. As a biomedical investigator participating in cutting-edge research with clinical and mentoring responsibilities, Dr. Ruben Gur, Ph.D., became involved in court proceedings rather late in his career. Based on the success of Dr. Gur and other research investigators of his generation, who developed and validated advanced methods for linking brain structure and function to behavior, neuroscience findings and procedures became relevant to multiple legal issues, especially related to culpability and mitigation. Dr. Gur found himself being asked to opine in cases where he could contribute expertise on neuropsychological testing and structural and functional neuroimaging. Most of his medical-legal consulting experience has been in capital cases because of the elevated legal requirement for thorough mitigation investigations in such cases, and his limited availability due to his busy schedule as a full-time professor and research investigator who runs the Brain and Behavior Lab at the University of Pennsylvania (“Penn”). Courtroom testimony, however, has not been a topic of his research and so he has not published extensively on the issues in peer-reviewed literature.