For several decades now, neuroscientists have used technology to produce images of the brain in action.  But what do such pictures tell us?  Should they change the way we think about personal identity and free will?  Can they reveal whether a person is capable of making moral decisions, or whether a person is telling the truth?  If so, brain imaging technology seems to hold great promise for the criminal justice system.  However, allowing brain scans to be used as evidence in trials for conviction or sentencing raises many questions about the nature of responsibility, the nature of fairness, and the public perception of science and technology.

The 2011 LSSP symposium, Ethics & the Brain, will bring to campus seven leading researchers from the fields of neuroscience, law, psychology, philosophy, anthropology, and theology to discuss these issues. 

The symposium will take place on the flagship campus of the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri.  It is free and open to the university community and the public and is designed to encourage dialogue across methodologies and backgrounds.


Symposium Information


Affiliated Events

1050H Honors seminar: Ethics and the Brain
University of Missouri

Film Series
MU Museum of Art & Archaeology

  • A Clockwork Orange, February 17

Trolley problem reenactment
University of Missouri

Film series with discussion
Ragtag Cinema

  • Cold Souls, March 9
  • In Search of Memory, March 16

“Controlling Heredity: The American Eugenics Crusade 1870-1940”: University of Missouri Libraries Exhibit
Ellis Library, University of Missouri

“Visions of Transparency: The Human Body and Social Order,"Ellis Library, University of Missouri

  • by Stefani Engelstein
  • opening lecture for Eugenics exhibit

Brain-research poster session
Life Sciences Center
More on poster submission...

American Society for Neurochemistry
42nd Annual Meeting

St. Louis, MO

Journalism ethics mini-conference
School of Journalism


For more information,
contact Stefani Engelstein at EngelsteinS@missouri.edu
or Karla Carter at Carterka@missouri.edu

Symposium Speakers


Stefani Engelstein, Ph.D.; Co-chair of planning committee
Director, Life Sciences and Society Program; Associate Professor of German
Research areas: literary and cultural studies in connection with the history of science

Philip Robbins, Ph.D.; Co-chair of planning committee
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Research areas: philosophical psychology, with a special focus on social cognition; experimental philosophy; conceptual foundations of cognitive, social, and affective neuroscience

Bruce Bartholow, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology
Research areas: social cognition including social neuroscience approaches to person perception and aggression; affect of alcohol on social cognitio

David Beversdorf, M.D.
Associate Professor of Radiology, Neurology, and Psychology
Research areas: autism; drug abuse; dementia; cognitive effects of stress; the cognitive neuroscience of problem solving ability; functional neuroimaging pharmacological modulation of cognition

Paul Litton, J.D.; Ph.D. (philosophy)
Associate Professor of Law
Research areas: moral philosophy and criminal law theory (especially free will and responsibility theory); bioethics

Amit Prasad, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Research areas: trans-national aspects of innovation, development, and use of medical technologies such as MRI

Jack Schultz, Ph.D.
Director, Life Sciences Center; Professor, Division of Plant Sciences
Research areas: networking and interdisciplinary collaboration as success factors in research; herbivore / plant interactions through a multidisciplinary approach including ecology, biochemistry, and molecular biology

Ines Segert, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Honors College
Research areas: cognitive neuroscience; decision making

Lee Wilkins, Ph.D. (political science); M.A. (journalism)
Professor of Journalism
Research areas: media ethics; ethical judgment; media coverage of the environment and hazards and risks




Sponsors & Partners

Mizzou Advantage: Understanding and Managing Transformative and Disruptive Technologies MU Libraries
Mizzou Advantage: Media of the Future The Smith/Patterson Lecture Series, School of Journalism
Mizzou Advantage: One Health, One Medicine MU Center for Arts & Humanities
MU School of Medicine Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Group
MU School of Journalism Center for Health Ethics
MU College of Arts and Science MU Honors College
MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Ragtag Cinema
MU School of Law MU Libraries
Chancellor’s Distinguished Visitor Fund
Saturday Morning Science
Chancellor’s Fund for Excellence The Columbia Tribune
MU Office of Research MU Museum of Art & Archaeology
Bond Life Sciences Center MU Conference Office
MU Conference Office © 2010
The Sixth Annual Life Sciences & Society Symposia