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Neuroscience and Correctional Facility Design Workshop: Understanding Cognitive Processes in Correctional Settings: Workshop Report New Orleans, October 7-8, 2006

NCJ Number
Jay Farbstein Ph.D.; Melissa Farling
Date Published
April 2007
133 pages
In focusing on defining an agenda for neuroscience research applied in correctional settings, the workshop reviewed in this report is the first phase of a three-phase project intended to break new ground in applying selected findings of neuroscience research to the design of correctional environments, so as to influence positive behaviors of those living in these environments.
The workshop, which was held October 5 and 6, 2006, was attended by 23 participants that included 5 neuroscientists or psychologists, 6 correctional facility administrators, and 7 architects, as well as the 2 project organizers, 2 senior managers from the National Institute of Corrections, and the founding president of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA). The workshop began with an introduction to neuroscience and its applications to architectural environments. This was followed by a presentation on the current state of research on the impacts of correctional environments on inmates and staff. Both presentations are summarized in this report. The afternoon was spent in small groups, with each group discussing an assigned topic. A neuroscientist began each group by giving an overview of how the brain is affected by environmental conditions. Each group then developed possible hypotheses regarding the application of neuroscience in the design of correctional facilities. Discussions then proceeded to how the hypotheses could be tested in various research projects. This included consideration of research design and researcher-subject relations. Each group's presentation is summarized in this report. In the morning of the workshop's second day, each group reported on its inquiries, the most promising hypotheses, and research projects. Discussions of the group reports followed. This discussion is summarized in this report. Based on levels of interest and likely feasibility, two projects were selected for further development and exploration. They are described in this report.