Skip to main content

Cornell research puts memory on trial

LII is committed to interdisciplinary research and cooperation. In that spirit, we want to let you know about the results of a research project by Cornell professors Valerie Reyna and Chuck Brainerd that is likely to have major implications for legal proceedings and other branches of the criminal justice system. Using mathematical models, they discovered that memories are captured and recorded separately and differently in two distinct parts of the mind; and that, contrary to established belief and practice, children are less likely than adults to produce false memories and are therefore more likely to give accurate testimony when properly questioned. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation. Reyna and Brainerd have summarized their project and findings in a new book, The Science of False Memory, published by Oxford University Press.