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It's funny how ethics and pragmatism overlap - Input Junkie
September 24th, 2009
09:00 am

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It's funny how ethics and pragmatism overlap
Torture makes it harder for people to remember accurately.
Neurochemical studies have revealed that the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, brain regions integral to the process of memory, are rich in receptors for hormones that are activated by stress and sleep deprivation and which have been shown to have deleterious effects on memory. "To briefly summarize a vast, complex literature, prolonged and extreme stress inhibits the biological processes believed to support memory in the brain," says O'Mara. "For example, studies of extreme stress with Special Forces Soldiers have found that recall of previously-learned information was impaired after stress occurred." Waterboarding in particular is an extreme stressor and has the potential to elicit widespread stress-induced changes in the brain.

This matches something that occurred to me when I first heard about sleep deprivation and torture-- if I'm even moderately tired, it's much harder for me to remember details about when, where, and with whom something happened.

Link thanks to ookpik.

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From:whswhs
Date:September 24th, 2009 03:08 pm (UTC)
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That could conceivably be useful for questioning someone under certain circumstances. If you're trying to tell a false story, you need to remember the false story, and keep it straight, and keep it separate from the true story, which of course you also remember; that could be supposed to make greater demands on memory than the true story by itself. I have the impression that a lot of questioning in investigative situations involves repeatedly going over the details of someone's story, waiting for them to say something that doesn't fit, which can then be made the basis for further questioning. Fatigue and stress could increase the likelihood of such a slip. In other words, if lying imposes greater demands on memory than telling the truth, torture might impair the ability to tell the truth, but impair the ability to lie even more.
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From:nancylebov
Date:September 24th, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC)
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A practical question would be whether the ability to remember the truth gets so degraded that there's no longer any hope of getting accurate answers under any circumstances.
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From:whswhs
Date:September 24th, 2009 04:29 pm (UTC)
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It may be a matter not of whether but of when.
From:dsgood
Date:September 24th, 2009 03:22 pm (UTC)
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From:whswhs
Date:September 24th, 2009 05:30 pm (UTC)
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I don't know the expression AT torture. What does the acronym stand for? My guessing circuits seem to be offline this morning.
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From:whswhs
Date:September 24th, 2009 06:00 pm (UTC)
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Is that the practice that's been recommended by some people for dealing with autism/Asperger's syndrome spectrum kids? If so, I've heard of it, but not looked into it closely, I'm afraid. Or am I confusing two different things?
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