Wiki Group Project


external image brain.gif

Michelle Malters - Editor
Chelsea Harmdierks - Group Leader
Malik Stewart - Interviewer
Misty Cochran - Book Keeper

Our group dealt with the topic of memory. Memory is a very diverse topic to delve into. Short-term and long-term memory issues were investigated. Another subtopic dealt with is how we as humans forget and remember things in our lives.This issue is very timely in our society with our concerns about dementia and Alzheimer's disease becoming more prevelant. A specific test of memory issues in our society deals with eyewitness testimony. An interview of a laywer raised the question of how attorneys deal with eyewitness testimony and how an attorney interprets the memory validity of an eyewitness.


Memory Models and Short Term Memory
  • Early studies involving memory and emotions show that emotions play a large role in memory retrieval, and more importantly, memory construction. Christianson proposed a Negative Emotional-Memory Model theorizing that negative emotional arousal actually enhances memory. The implications of these experiments are great, and possibly could be used to refute the evidence of memory distortion, specifically in regards to eyewitness testimony.
  • Van Dillen and Koole proposed a Working Memory Model of Distraction that emphasized the role of working memory in attenuating mood. The model suggests that one can be, in effect, distracted from a negative mood simply by overloading one’s working memory.

Long Term Memory
  • Long term memory is memory that can last for years, sometimes a lifetime.
  • There are two forms of long term memory: episodic and semantic. Episodic memory refers to the memory of personally experienced events or information. This may be the latest developing memory. It also seems is the first to begin showing signs of age related decline.
  • Semantic memory refers to the memory expressed through generic facts, knowledge, and beliefs. Research shows that aging adults have the same ability to remember semantic information as younger adults do.
  • The slower the rate of information that is presented the more long term memory is utilized.

Forgetting and Remembering
  • Forgetting information as its usefulness decreases is important to prevent overload.
  • It is easier to recall a past event when you one is in the same mood or state of consciousness.
  • There tends to be more forgetting of emotional material when one is depressed.

Eyewitness Testimony
  • Witnesses must attempt to maximize the amount of information they can remember while remaining accurate with their information.Witnesses can estimate outside influences on lineup manipultion.
  • Confidence in a response is a integral part of reporting memories.
  • In an age related study, children were shown to be good witnesses. Their memories tend to be more accurate than adults because adults tend to generalize information while children tend to be more specific. When asked specific questions children tend to answer more accurately than when asked open-ended questions.
  • Both response time and confidence in answering as a witness are unique predictors of weather a testimony is accurate.
  • Repeated questioning can change the content and style of eyewitness reports.

Interview with Jesse Weins

Eyewitness Testimony Interview

Memory is composed of short term and long term segments. One of the models of short term memory showed that negative stimuli aroused more emotions and these were better remembered. Long term memory has two components. Episodic memory is the memory of personally experienced events or information. This is the memory that declines with age. Semantic memory is expressed through knowledge and beliefs. This memory stays stable with aging. There are age related differences in how well we process memory information. With age comes a decrease in working memory capacity. Many times we forget data because of information overload on our memory. Our reviews showed that the more confident a witness appears and the faster they respond to questioning, the more a jury perceives that their testimony is accurate. Children are good eyewitnesses if they are asked specific questions. All of these issues can effect the validity of eyewitness testimony. Our interview was with an attorney and our questions dealt specifically with eyewitness testimony. Mr. Weins felt that eyewitness testimony is particularly unreliable. He feels that juries believe eyewitness testimony so the point about reliability is mooted. The goal of pre-trial coaching is not to change a witnesses' testimony or memory. Mr. Weins stated that people may not be as accurate with language as they could be. The coaching is used to shapren the eyewitness' memory and make their testimony more accurate. Memory competence is difficult to gauge. The important issue from the attorney standpoint is whether the jury views the witness as competent.