Past Event

Promises and Perils of Neuroprediction - Seminars in Society and Neuroscience

April 16, 2019
4:00 PM - 6:30 PM
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Faculty House, Columbia University, New York

The event recording is available via YouTube. 

Event Description: 

Neuroprediction, the use of neuroscientific data to predict human behavior, can sound like science fiction. But with the advent of neuroimaging and the continuing rapid development of other non-invasive brain measurements, neuroprediction is increasingly a real-world phenomenon.

Deep philosophical, legal, and neuroscientific questions arise regarding the use of these methods to predict behavior. Like all scientific tools, whether or not these technologies are used responsibly depends on who uses them. For instance, recent research illustrates the potential use of neuroprediction to assess an individual’s risk of (re-)engaging in antisocial conduct in forensic contexts. While the use of brain-based data may add predictive value to existing risk assessment tools, at the same time, the use (or misuse) of neuroprediction in courtrooms may imply violations of individual rights and liberties under the pretext of enhancing public safety. Additionally, neuroprediction presents several technological and neuroscientific challenges. The non-invasive measures currently available are only indirect measures of cognitive activity, and there are serious questions regarding the predictive validity and reliability of data at the individual level. Understanding the conceptual, ethical, and legal dimensions surrounding the use of neuroprediction technologies helps crystallize the issues at hand and potentially provides moral guidance for those who wish to capitalize on these new tools as their prevalence and specificity continue to advance.

In this seminar, four experts from neuroscience, law, and philosophy will discuss recent findings in neuroprediction research, the predictive power of brain-based evidence compared to behavioral evidence, as well as the ethical and legal concerns emerging from the entrance of neuroprediction in the courts of law.

Event Participants:


  • Arielle Baskin-Sommers, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, Yale University
  • Martha Farah, Annenberg Professor of Natural Sciences, University of Pennsylvania
  • Kent Kiehl, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of New Mexico
  • Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics, Duke University


  • Jeffrey A. Fagan, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Professor of Epidemiology, Columbia University


  • Federica Coppola, Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience, Columbia University

Event Information: 

Free and open to the public, but RSVP is required via Eventbrite

This event is hosted by the Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience as part of the Seminars in Society and Neuroscience series

Please visit the Faculty House website for directions.