Brushing Up Our Memories: Can We Use Neurotechnologies to Improve Eyewitness Memory?

Law, Innovation and Technology, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 203-221, 2009

Tilburg Law School Research Paper No. 024/2010

26 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2010 Last revised: 2 Nov 2010

Laura Klaming

Tilburg University - Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT); Tilburg University - Private Law Department

Anton H. Vedder

Tilburg Law School; KU Leuven - Faculty of Law; KU Leuven - Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP)

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

Eyewitness testimony plays an important role in the apprehension, prosecution and adjudication of criminals. In their decision-making processes, law enforcement officials rely heavily oneyewitness reports and cases may sometimes be decided exclusively on the basis of eyewitness evidence. Unfortunately, the significance generally assigned to eyewitness evidence does not exactly match the actual accuracy of eyewitness memory. Given the consequences of vague, incomplete or inaccurate eyewitness testimony and the importance of this type of evidence in criminal justice, there is a need for methods to improve the memory of eyewitnesses in order to eventually obtain reliable evidence. Despite the fact that psychological research has improved the collection of eyewitness evidence over the past years, the majority of methods aiming at an enhancement of eyewitness memory, such as hypnosis and the cognitive interview, was found to have no or limited potential in leading to more reliable evidence. It is therefore necessary to explore new and potentially initially controversial methods for the improvement of eyewitness memory. Recent developments within the field of neuroscience provide insights into the possibility of using neurotechnologies for the purpose of cognitive enhancement. These technologies might be effective in improving eyewitness memory. Moreover, since neurotechnologies directly affect brain structures and processes, they may even lead to more reliable eyewitness evidence than current methods. The present paper discusses the possibility of improving eyewitness memory by means of neurotechnologies and addresses some of the considerations such practice would entail.

Suggested Citation

Klaming, Laura and Vedder, Anton H., Brushing Up Our Memories: Can We Use Neurotechnologies to Improve Eyewitness Memory? (2009). Law, Innovation and Technology, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 203-221, 2009; Tilburg Law School Research Paper No. 024/2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1685789

Laura Klaming (Contact Author)

Tilburg University - Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT) ( email )

P.O.Box 90153
Prof. Cobbenhagenlaan 221
Tilburg, 5037
Netherlands

Tilburg University - Private Law Department ( email )

Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

Anton H. Vedder

Tilburg Law School ( email )

Room M 707
P.O. Box 90153
NL-5000 LE Tilburg
Netherlands

KU Leuven - Faculty of Law ( email )

Tiensestraat 41
Leuven, B-3000
Belgium

KU Leuven - Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP)

Sint-Michielsstraat 6 box 3443
Leuven, 3000
Belgium

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