Federica Coppola

Federica Coppola is a criminal lawyer specializing in neurolaw. Her work uses psychological and neuroscientific knowledge about the role of emotions in moral decision-making and social behavior to inform changes in criminal law doctrines, theories of punishment, and correctional interventions. Her main focus is to use this branch of scientific findings to reform restrictive and retributive approaches to criminal violence and redirect criminal justice towards social rehabilitation. She has published articles and book chapters on criminal culpability, excuse doctrines, punishment, as well as on the use of neuroscientific tools for forensic purposes. Her latest book, The Emotional Brain and the Guilty Mind: Novel Paradigms of Culpability and Punishment, is out now.

Federica earned a JD from the University of Bologna Law School in 2010, an LLM in Comparative, European, and International Laws from the European University Institute in 2014, and a PhD in law from the European University Institute in 2017. In her doctoral dissertation, she developed a general theory of culpability informed by neuroscientific insights into emotions, moral decision-making, and antisocial behavior. In 2016, she was a visiting scholar at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the Penn Center for Neuroscience and Society. She has taught at the University of Pavia’s School of Law and Neuroscience, University of Passau Law School, and Columbia Law School. Prior to joining academia, Federica worked as a criminal defense attorney on cases involving crimes against the person and crimes against public administration. In 2021, Federica joined the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security, and Law as a senior researcher in the Department of Criminal Law. 

Federica is the 2017 Robert A. Burt Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience.

Project Title

Reinventing Criminal Justice with Social and Affective Neuroscience

Paul Appelbaum 
Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine, and Law, Columbia University

Geraldine Downey
Robert Johnston Niven Professor of Humane Letters in Psychology, Columbia University

Jeffrey Fagan
Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law, Professor of Epidemiology, Columbia University

Criminal Law and Neuroscience (L8792)
Columbia Law School, Spring 2019