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BRAINS ON TRIAL with Alan Alda
On trial is Jimmy Moran, who at 18 took part in a store robbery during which the storeowner's wife was shot and grievously injured. Presiding is distinguished U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who has a longstanding interest in neuroscience and its conceivable effect on criminal law. The trial raises common questions: Is a witness lying? How reliable is eyewitness testimony? What's the best way to avoid a biased jury? How well can the defendant's intentions be judged? Alan Alda explores how brain-scanning technology is providing insights into these questions and discusses the implications of neuroscience entering the courtroom.
As the trial gets underway, Alan Alda speaks with legal experts and scientists to determine if developments in neuroscience could assist the criminal justice system. By visiting and participating in a dozen experiments, Alda gains insights into how, and what, the jurors, judges, witnesses and attorneys are thinking - insights that may one day influence how the criminal justice system operates, and in some cases are already doing so.