Georgia State will host conference about neurology and the law

Georgia State will host the first Neuro-Interventions and The Law: Regulating Human Mental Capacity conference in the Student Center from Sept. 12-14, according to associate professor of philosophy, law and neuroscience Nicole Vincent.

Vincent, the event coordinator, said the conference will bring together leading minds in philosophy, law and neuroscience to address how neuro-intervention can change a person’s mental capacity.

The event will also examine if the government could ethically use neuro-intervention to alter a criminal’s mind to no longer be a threat to society, according to the conference’s website.

Georgia State hosting the conference is a result of University’s Second Century Initiative (2CI), according to Vincent. 2CI is Georgia State’s initiative to increase recognition of research programs.

“There will literally be some of the leading minds in the world at the conference. We want for as many students from Georgia State to attend as possible,” Vincent said.

Each day the conference will begin with panels featuring the day’s theme followed by workshops exploring a topic in-depth, according to the event’s website.

Sept.12 will address how criminals should be processed. Topic discussions include whether rapists should be jailed or if legal systems should remove their will to do crimes through neuro-intervention and release them back into society.

The decision of how to process criminals is a question of whether the government has the right and responsibility to change an individual’s mind using neurotechnology, according to Vincent.

“The question is, does the government have the responsibility to ‘fix’ people?” she said.

Stephen Morse, Sept. 13 keynote speaker, will open the conference at 9 a.m. and conclude with dinner at 6:30 p.m. The theme will address criminals being sane enough to be punished, according to the event website.

Vincent said the government medicates mentally unstable individuals until they are considered legally sane.

“For example, often people facing the death penalty go insane. The government considers it unethical to kill crazy people, so they medicate the person until they are considered sane enough to be killed, then kill them,” she said.

Panels will discuss the societal threats of using cognitive enhancements on the last day of the conference. Keynote speaker Nita Farahany, professor of law and philosophy at Duke University, will close the conference.

Vincent said the increase in college students using stimulants such as ritalin and adderall are examples of the threats posed by performance-enhancing drugs.

“When many students use stimulants, professors’ expectations will be raised to the drug-induced standard. Students who do not use these drugs could begin to feel the pressure to use them in order to perform,” she said.

In her TEDx presentation earlier this year, Vincent suggested the use of cognitive enhancements could spiral out of control resulting in the drug-induced future.

“I do not want to have to be drugged just to do my job,” Vincent said.

Entry is free to students and those interested in volunteering at the conference can contact Stephanie Hare at

For more conference details, visit the conference’s website.