By Dr. Ken Broda-Bahm:
In an age when Americans spend a stunning 11 hours every day, on average, interacting with digital media, the idea that it is somehow enough in the courtroom for trial lawyers to simply use the power of words or a few static images is becoming increasingly dated. If you really want to engage, you should give jurors something to watch, including all three dimensions plus motion and time. Psyblog recently shared some amazing brain imaging and animations showing brain structure and activity. For this post, I am going to shamelessly borrow those clips (embedded below with appropriate thanks to their creators and, to the always interesting, Jeremy Dean for calling them out). What I hope to add is a contextual focus on how these fare as demonstratives in litigation.
In trial, we know that demonstrative exhibits are often seen as playing a secondary role: second to evidence and second to the verbal explanation. The higher-end animations, however, are often an even more distant second (or third, or fourth) to exhibits that can be created more simply or more cheaply. Understanding that not all, or even most, cases will be able to afford or to merit the higher-end demonstrative animations, it is still worth it to pay attention to the state of the art and to think about how this technology can be brought to bear when it matters most. The good news is that creating sophisticated graphics is easier and cheaper than it has ever been before. Laptops now surpass what the best production workstations could have created in earlier times. A skilled computer animator can take an idea from design to execution in less time and expense than you might think. So let's take a look at some of these new brain images as an example of what modern imaging and animation can bring to today's courtroom.