Just 60 Seconds of Combat Impairs Memory - Association for Psychological Science
Just 60 Seconds of Combat Impairs Memory
Just 60 seconds of all-out physical exertion in a threatening situation can seriously damage the memories of those involved for many details of the incident, according to a new study of police officers.
Police officers, witnesses and victims of crime suffer loss of memory, recognition and awareness of their environment if they have had to use bursts of physical energy in a combative encounter, according to scientists.
Researchers, led by Dr Lorraine Hope of the University of Portsmouth, found that less than 60 seconds of all-out exertion, as might happen when an officer is forced to chase-down a fleeing suspect or engage in a physical battle with a resistant criminal, can seriously impair their ability to remember details of the incident - or even identify the person who was involved. Even officers in top condition are not immune to the rapid drain of physical prowess and cognitive faculties resulting from sustained hand-to-hand combat.
The findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, are a stark warning to police officers, police chiefs and the courts, according to Dr Hope, a Reader in applied cognitive psychology of the university’s Department of Psychology.
She said: “Police officers are often expected to remember in detail who said what and how many blows were received or given in the midst of physical struggle or shortly afterwards. The results of our tests indicate it may be very difficult for them to do this.