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Memory, the adolescent brain and lying: The limits of neuroscientific evidence in the law
Date:4/16/2013

thony Wagner, a cognitive neuroscientist at Stanford University, to test fMRI uses for memory detection was a case in June 2008 in Mumbai, India, in which a judge cited EEG evidence as indicating that a murder suspect held knowledge about the crime that only the killer could possess. "It appeared that the brain data held considerable sway," says Wagner, who points out that the methods used in that case have not been subject to extensive peer review.

Since then, Wagner and colleagues have conducted a number of experiments to test whether brain scans can be used to discriminate between stimuli that people perceive as old or new, as well as more objectively, whether or not they have previously encountered a particular person, place, or thing. To date, Wagner and colleagues have had success in the lab using fMRI-based analyses to determine whether someone recognizes a person or perceives them as unfamiliar, but not in determining whether in fact they have actually seen them before.

In a new study presented today, his team sought to take the experiments out of the lab and into the real world by outfitting participants with digital cameras around their necks that automatically took photos of the participants' everyday experiences. Over a multi-week period, the cameras yielded 45,000 photos per participant.

Wagner's team then took brief photo sequences of individual events from the participants' lives and showed them to the participants in the fMRI scanner, along with photo sequences from other subjects as the control stimuli. The researchers analyzed their brain patterns to determine whether or not the participants were recognizing the sequences as their own. "We did quite well with most subjects, with a mean accuracy of 91% in discriminating between event sequences that the participant recognized as old and those that the participant perceived as unfamiliar, " Wagner says. "These findings indicate that distributed patterns of brain activity, a
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Contact: Lisa M.P. Munoz
cns.publicaffairs@gmail.com
703-951-7331
Cognitive Neuroscience Society
Source:Eurekalert

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