Seminar Series

A Neuroscientific Method for Understanding the Legal Mind: from the Perspective of Expertise

Thursday, 12 January 2023 | 9:00 - 10:00 (JST)
  • Shozo Ota Professor of Meiji University, Emeritus Professor of the University of Tokyo
  • Takeshi Asamizuya Assistant Professor at the Graduate Schools for Law and Politics, the University of Tokyo
  • Masayuki Tamaruya Professor, Graduate Schools for Law and Politics, The University of Tokyo
Event Description

We conducted an MRI study comparing legal experts and lay persons on how the brain works in people facing a sentencing decision. This study is designed to obtain relevant implications for the criminal justice system and to explore the effective connectivity underlying expertise. Although the two groups reveal no differential brain activation in sentencing decisions, the dynamic causal modeling (DCM) analysis reveals distinct patterns of connectivity associated with subjects’ expertise and mitigating factors (remorse). The strength of a certain connection is correlated with the decrease in punishment severity with mitigating factors. Our results suggest that legal expertise means making the legal decision easier with legal training. The different directionality revealed by DCM analysis could be interpreted as reason controlling emotion in legal experts while emotion controls reason in laypersons.

About the Speaker

Shozo Ota is a Professor at Meiji University School of Law. He is also an Emeritus Professor at The University of Tokyo. He taught Japanese Law at Michigan Law School as a Visiting Professor of Japanese Law from 1997-98. His research focuses on A.I. & Law, Neuro-Law, Law & Social Science, Legal Negotiation, etc. He is the President of the Japan Access to Law Association, and Japan Law & Economics Association.

Takeshi Asamizuya is an Assistant Professor at the Graduate Schools for Law and Politics, at the University of Tokyo. He received his BA in physics at the Faculty of Science, Rikkyo University, and his Ph.D. in Science at the Graduate School of Science, Nagoya University. He served as technical staff of the MRI facility at RIKEN BSI for 10 years before assuming his current position.

Their recent publication is Takeshi Asamizuya, Hiroharu Saito, Ryosuke Higuchi, Go Naruse, Shozo Ota, & Junko Kato, “Effective Connectivity and Criminal Sentencing Decisions,” Cerebral Cortex, bhab484, (2022).