Predicting the knowledge-recklessness distinction in the human brain.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2017 03 13;114(12):3222-3227. Epub 2017 Mar 13.

Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London, London WC1N 3BG, United Kingdom;

Criminal convictions require proof that a prohibited act was performed in a statutorily specified mental state. Different legal consequences, including greater punishments, are mandated for those who act in a state of knowledge, compared with a state of recklessness. Existing research, however, suggests people have trouble classifying defendants as knowing, rather than reckless, even when instructed on the relevant legal criteria. We used a machine-learning technique on brain imaging data to predict, with high accuracy, which mental state our participants were in. This predictive ability depended on both the magnitude of the risks and the amount of information about those risks possessed by the participants. Our results provide neural evidence of a detectable difference in the mental state of knowledge in contrast to recklessness and suggest, as a proof of principle, the possibility of inferring from brain data in which legally relevant category a person belongs. Some potential legal implications of this result are discussed.

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Source
http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1619385114DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5373370PMC
March 2017
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References

(Supplied by CrossRef)
Sorting guilty minds
Shen et al.
NYU Law Rev 2011

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