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Memory and law: what can cognitive neuroscience contribute?

Abstract

A recent decision in the United States by the New Jersey Supreme Court has led to improved jury instructions that incorporate psychological research showing that memory does not operate like a video recording. Here we consider how cognitive neuroscience could contribute to addressing memory in the courtroom. We discuss conditions in which neuroimaging can distinguish true and false memories in the laboratory and note reasons to be skeptical about its use in courtroom cases. We also discuss neuroscience research concerning false and imagined memories, misinformation effects and reconsolidation phenomena that may enhance understanding of why memory does not operate like a video recording.

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Correspondence to Daniel L Schacter.

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Schacter, D., Loftus, E. Memory and law: what can cognitive neuroscience contribute?. Nat Neurosci 16, 119–123 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3294

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