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When a Picture Is Not Worth a Thousand Words

Andreas Kuersten · November 2016
84 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. Arguendo 179

It is frequently put forth that the admission of neuroimaging evidence at criminal trials introduces the substantial risk of these sophisticated and visual presentations unduly influencing factfinders. As such, this Essay analyzes how brain image evidence might have this effect. Particularly, it focuses on the situation in which such evidence is proffered in support of mens rea and affirmative defense determinations, such as insanity. The Essay assesses the actual evidentiary value of neuroimaging evidence in these evaluations. It then presents relevant studies supporting and opposing the contention that this evidence unduly influences factfinders beyond its true explanatory power. Finally, given the current state of research into this issue, this Essay puts forth a prospective manner in which brain images might inordinately influence finders of fact and a path for further study.

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