Vanderbilt Law Review

Article Title

Memory and Punishment


O. Carter Snead

First Page



Developments in cognitive neuroscience-the science of how the brain enables the mind--continue to prompt profound scholarly debate and reflection on the practice and theory of criminal law. Advances in the field have raised vexing questions relating to lie detection, interrogation methods, the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination, competency to stand trial, defenses to guilt (such as diminished capacity and insanity), sentencing, and the relationship between moral responsibility and punishment. Similarly, for the past decade, philosophers, scientists, clinicians, and legal scholars have been engaged in a major debate about the cognitive neuroscience of memory and new capacities to modify it by neurobiological means. The primary focus of such debate has been on the ethical dimensions of memory modification.

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Criminal Law Commons