The neuroscience of memory: implications for the courtroom

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2013 Sep;14(9):649-658. doi: 10.1038/nrn3563. Epub 2013 Aug 14.


Although memory can be hazy at times, it is often assumed that memories of violent or otherwise stressful events are so well encoded that they are effectively indelible and that confidently retrieved memories are almost certainly accurate. However, findings from basic psychological research and neuroscience studies indicate that memory is a reconstructive process that is susceptible to distortion. In the courtroom, even minor memory distortions can have severe consequences that are partly driven by common misunderstandings about memory--for example, that memory is more veridical than it may actually be.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Expert Testimony*
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Neurosciences*
  • Police
  • Public Opinion*
  • Repression, Psychology*
  • Social Values
  • United States