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Research Projects & Publications

The Center’s research focuses on two cutting-edge uses of psychiatric, neurologic, and behavioral (PNB) genetic data: prenatal screening for copy-number variants (CNVs) that may have implications for neurodevelopmental abnormalities; and the introduction of behavioral genetic data in the courts and other adjudicatory settings. For each use, we are exploring how ambiguous PNB genetics data are interpreted, the impact of these data on our views of other people and the relationships we have with them, and the extent to which PNB genetics data affect our attributions of autonomy and responsibility for behavior.

Families and Prenatal Genetic Screening

This major research project explores the impact of PNB genetic information at the individual level on families undergoing prenatal genetic screening, including understanding of and desire for genetic information, its role in modulating parent-child relationships, and its effects on perceptions of autonomy and attributions of responsibility.

Legal Responsibility and PNB Genetics

This major research project investigates the impact of PNB genetic information at the societal level in adjudicatory contexts in which it may affect perceptions of autonomy and responsibility for behavior. Potential uses of PNB genetic data extend to venues in which decisions are made about responsibility and punishment, especially the courts. Since the decision-makers in these processes are often ordinary people (i.e. jurors), exploration of attitudes on the use of genetic information to assess responsibility for behavior can reveal both the probable effects of such data and the problems that may stem from their use.

Translational Research

Findings from our two major research projects will be used to develop recommendations for how PNB genetic information should be used in policies and practices at individual and societal levels. To develop these recommendations, we will consult with key stakeholders, including members of our local community. We will suggest how data on PNB genetics should be dealt with in family and clinical settings and in laws and public policies.