Bioethics News

Study Finds Memory Recognition Technology to be Effective Tool for Jurors in Evaluating Defendants

Published in the Journal of Law and the Biosciences, a report on “The Limited Effect of Electroencephalography Memory Recognition Evidence on Assessments of Defendant Credibility” suggests that American jurors can properly apply the results from brain-based memory recognition technology used on criminal defendants in order to fairly assess the defendants’ testimonies. As summarized by ScienceDaily, the research measured “the effect of neuroscientific evidence on subjects’ evaluation of a fictional criminal fact pattern,” though it also discovered “that the neuroscientific evidence was not as powerful a predictor as the overall strength of the case in determining outcomes.”

“The technology measures the electrical brain activity of defendants and witnesses, and should improve the legal system’s ability to determine who is telling the truth and who is not… Our new interdisciplinary research is exciting because it’s some of the first to empirically test how this would work in practice,” lead author of the study Francis Shen told ScienceDaily. The University of Minnesota law professor and director of its Neurolaw Lab conducted two separate experiments of online and in-person subjects.  “One day, it could become commonplace in justice investigations. However, we need more studies like this and more collaboration across disciplines before we can be confident that this type of evidence should be used in real legal cases.”

Research on the impact of brain-based memory recognition technology – as evidence of a testimony’s reliability or lack thereof in the courtroom – has been researched by scientific and legal scholars alike over the past twenty years. Hope in its potential to better the legal system now appears closer to being realized.


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The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.