The Role Of Witness Testimonies On Memory Essay

The Role Of Witness Testimonies On Memory Essay

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If we were to hold our brains in the palm of our hands we’d be holding a mass of pink responsible of many aspects of who we are. The brain and it’s ability to retain memory has been a very useful tool not only in the court, but in everyday life. A world without memory would make living much more difficult especially in the case of trying to solve a crime. Witness testimonies are a heavily relied on piece of evidence in court, but can be an affected when memory is altered by external factors, and distortions.
Biologically, many parts of the brain work to store memory. According to “The Human Memory” the cerebral cortex “plays a key role in memory”. The prefrontal cortex processes short-term memories and long-term memories which is an important part especially when a witness is asked to recall a crime within a certain amount of time. While the prefrontal cortex processes the hippocampus functions to transfer short-term memory to long-term memory. Biologically the brain works hard to preserve memory, but many psychological aspects could result in memory errors.
To begin, memory can be affected by the presence of external factors such as police officers. This all begins with a psychological word, suggestibility. According to the Introduction to Psychology textbook by Openstax, suggestibility is defined as “the effects of misinformation from external sources that leads to the creation of false memories”. A form of suggestibility may come directly from a police officer. An academic journal about the amount of influence a police officer is able to give by Kleider-Offutt, Cavrak, and Knuycky discusses the reliability of police officers following protocol when questioning eyewitnesses with an emotional arousal to a crime experience. The a...


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...order to ensure an effective use of information. As explained before, police officers have the ability to influence a witness’s memory by asking close-ended questions, so given that information if police officers started asking more open-ended questions there could be a decrease in memory error when solving crimes. Also, the prevention of using line-ups and other memory hindering factors as seen in The Elizabeth Smart Case. To avoid distortions in memory, interview questions could be asked in ways that doesn’t set an image in a witness’s head such as in the car accident example. Years from now witness testimonies and questionings may be performed in a more helpful way and the incidences of wrongful convictions and such may decrease over time. The concept of memory in witness testimonies may also expand to ways to improve memory in general to benefit in everyday life.

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