Memory in the Courtroom

What Every Attorney Should Know

by Dr. Paul Simpson,

Forensic Psychologist

A presentation for the State Bar of Arizona, USA. May 19, 2014

Memory is a vital function supporting learning, consciousness, cognition and behavior.Yet most people have little grasp of how memory works, its real purpose, or how remembered information relates to actual past events. Most laypersons believe memory functions to provide conscious knowledge of the past. Memory researchers, however, view memory as guiding current behavior based on past experience. Conscious knowledge may be a side effect, or one means to achieve behavioral guidance, but is not the real objective of the system. From this viewpoint, forgetting and other memory “failures” illuminate normal function in the same way visual illusions reveal normal visual function.

They are not mere inefficiencies but are the infrequent down-side of powerful heuristics that guide current behavior with minimal load on working memory and attention.

Full presentation by Dr. Paul Simpson, pdf

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