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  • InsideTrack
  • January 04, 2023

    'Our Perception is Distorted all the Time'

    Contrary to popular belief, our memories are fragmentary, says Craig Stark, professor of neurobiology at U.C.-Irvine. He will present at the Forensic Justice Institute, a virtual event, Jan. 19-20, 2023.

    Jan. 4, 2022 – “Our perception is distorted all the time,” said Craig Stark, Ph.D. “What got in wasn’t some video recording of an event – you can’t go back and inspect it later as if it’s a picture.”

    Stark, a professor of neurobiology at U.C.-Irvine, is one of the presenters at the State Bar of Wisconsin’s second annual Forensic Justice Institute. The virtual event is scheduled to be held on Jan. 19-20, 2023.

    Stark is an expert in long-term memory who researches false memories in eyewitness testimony. He said that contrary to popular belief, our memories are fragmentary.

    “What got in are just a few bits and pieces from that event and any time you retrieve a memory, you’re filling things in based on how you expect the world to be,” Stark said. “We take a whole collection of our past experiences and we use that to fill in most of what we’re retrieving.”

    The reason for that, Stark said, is evolutionary. Humans’ capacity for memory evolved to groove big-picture lessons in our brains, not detail.

    That reality has profound implications for eyewitness testimony, especially as it regards the physical description of suspects and other important details in criminal cases.

    Attend the Forensic Justice Institute

    Forensic Justice Institute banner

    Obtain more insights on forensic evidence at the second annual Forensic Justice Institute, a collaboration between the Center for Integrity in Forensic Sciences and State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE®, a virtual event taking place Jan. 19-20.

    Check out the schedule or register now

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