September 2019
Volume 19, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2019
Does Lying Require More or Less Visual Working Memory and What Does It Mean for the Legal System?
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Christopher S Sundby
    Neuroscience Program, Vanderbilt University
  • Geoffrey F Woodman
    Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt Vision Research Center, Vanderbilt University
Journal of Vision September 2019, Vol.19, 75c. doi:
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      Christopher S Sundby, Geoffrey F Woodman; Does Lying Require More or Less Visual Working Memory and What Does It Mean for the Legal System?. Journal of Vision 2019;19(10):75c.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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This study uses subjects’ electroencephalogram (EEG) and behavior to test an assumption underlying the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE), the rules that determine what evidence juries hear. Although the rules are intended to promote accuracy, they are premised on untested psychological assumptions. One example of such an untested assumption is an exception to the ban against hearsay, the requirement that the person who actually observed the event must testify under oath. The Present Sense Impression admits hearsay testimony about contemporaneously viewed events based on the assumption that people cannot lie about something they are currently viewing. Here we used a behavioral paradigm and EEG recordings to assess the validity of the assumption that lying about something you are viewing is more difficult. Our measurements of brain activity suggest that individuals hold less information in visual working memory when lying compared to truth telling, possibly by dropping the truthful representation from visual working memory. However, consistent with the Present Sense Impression exception, we found that this strategy took additional time to implement. Thus, scientifically testing the assumptions that our legal system is based on can benefit both the law and the application of vision science to our lives.

Acknowledgement: This research was supported by the National Eye Institute (R01-EY019882, R01-EY025275, P30-EY08126, and T32-EY007135) and National Institute of Justice (2017-IJ-CX-0007). 

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