Law and Neuroscience

Intersection of Law and Neuroscience

Scientists build their knowledge of the natural and social worlds by collecting data from groups and making inferences at the group or population level. Lawyers are largely concerned with how the natural and social worlds impact or might help to decide individual cases. Given this lack of a shared basis for analysis, translating scientific findings to law is a central problem in courtrooms. The Consortium supports research efforts that help bridge that gap between growth of scientific understanding and the real world applications of those findings.

Bench to School Initiative

The California Bench to School Initiative was established by the California Legislature in June of 2021.  It is a collaboration between UC Law SF, UCSF Medical School, and UCLA School of Education.  This initiative aims to disrupt the school to prison pipeline in California by addressing literacy outcomes in school settings through a collaborative multistakeholder and multidisciplinary approach.  The three institutions are designing research studies across disciplines to better understand and conduct data analysis on the prevalence of neurodiversity and adverse experiences among juvenile justice involved youth.  The long-term goal of the initiative is to decrease the population of youth who become justice-involved by reforming the legal, educational, and health services available to them to be more responsive to their needs. 

Current projects include a pilot study of young adults who were formerly incarcerated in juvenile facilities statewide to better understand their neuropsychological profiles as well as their experiences growing up.  Staff and faculty at UC Law SF are also meeting to design the Bench to School Initiative to take advantage of the wealth of expertise among the team to help drive systemic change on behalf of California’s youth.