New York Academy of Sciences publishes 'Annals' with conclusions from B·Debate on neuroethics

The authors of the article, Adolf Tobeña, Òscar Vilarroya, Mónica Tolsanas and Antoni Bulbena are associated with the Autonomous University of Barcelona and the “Social Brain” chair


What are the neurobiological keys to human criminality? The New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) has devoted one of its Annals (Volume 1299, September 2013) to the scientific conclusions of the debate entitled Neuroethics: from Lab to Law. A Scientific Scrutiny of Sociability, Responsibility and Criminality held by B·Debate, the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and the "Social Brain" chair in November 2012 in Barcelona. The NYAS Annals is one of the oldest multidisciplinary scientific serials in the United States, published continually since 1823, as well as one of the most cited around the world.

The authors of the publication are Catalan: Adolf Tobeña, professor of Psychiatry  and director of the Department of Psychiatry and Forensic Medicine at the Autonomous University of Barcelona; Òscar Vilarroya, director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Unit in the Department of Psychiatry and Forensic Medicine at the UAB; Mónica Tolsanas, social anthropologist at the UAB; and Antoni Bulbena, professor of Psychiatry at the UAB.

Tobeña and Vilarroya headed up the B·Debate event, which brought together 17 national and international experts to debate the latest advances in neuroethics, a discipline that combines the ethics of neurobiology and neurobiological aspects of ethical behavior. Over the two days, the debate focused on psychopathy and antisocial behavior, the perception of justice and criminality, and current knowledge on the genetic and environmental causes of predisposition to criminal behavior. "Psychopaths know the difference between right and wrong, but they don’t care," said Adolf Tobeña. The sessions also dealt with the convergence of advances in neuroscience and legislation of criminal acts, and the need for collaboration between the two disciplines.

The abstract is available free online and the full article can be downloaded with a subscription.

We recommend the interview with Dr. Adolf Tobeña entitled Jurists have seen tremendous changes thanks to science, but it will never take the decision out of their hands.