In class last week I brought up the effects of torture and whether or not it would affect reconstructive memory. Although it was mentioned that torture was a form of ‘coercion’ and would therefore affect reconstructive memory, I decided to research it more in depth on my own.
Despite torture’s notorious political polarity I did not want my research or my post to be. I just wanted to see what this type of severe ‘stress’ does scientifically to the brain when it’s trying to recall facts. This topic has been in my mind for quite a while. My mother read the book How to Break a Terrorist: The U.S. Interrogators Who Used Brains, Not Brutality, to Take Down the Deadliest Man in Iraq a few years ago and always told me to read it. Although I have yet to do that I feel the research I completed was very similar in conclusion.
In the study, they looked at brain scans of people who had be severely tortured and it was noted that their frontal and temporal lobes showed abnormal activity suggesting that their ability to access verbal memory for the recall of a traumatic event was compromised; implying that the knowledge gained from a suspect may be incorrect when tortured.
I have attached both the article that caught my attention from Science Insider as well as Dublin’s Trinity College professor Shane O’Mara’s research. I would suggest reading the Science Insider report first as it will help clarify many of the more abstract points in the research paper.