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Montreal Gazette - Crime & mistaken memory

Published: 5 May 2012

Psychological and neuroscience research have chipped away at the credence we give to witness accounts, and shown how memories can be unwittingly manipulated. And yet eyewitness identification remains a very important piece of evidence in many criminal cases.

Psychological and neuroscience research have chipped away at the credence we give to witness accounts, and shown how memories can be unwittingly manipulated. And yet eyewitness identification remains a very important piece of evidence in many criminal cases.

Some researchers are asking what role memories should have in court, if neuroscience can make criminal trials more objective and whether our legal system is keeping up with - or getting ahead of - science.

"The amygdala is sensitive to stress hormones, it has a lot of receptors for them," says Jorge Armony, a neuroscientist at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute and McGill University, who studies the interplay of emotion with consciousness, attention and memory. "The more stress, the more the amygdala responds," he says.

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