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Eyewitness: Memory in Criminal Investigation
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Eyewitness [electronic resource]: What Actually Happened?

Ten people are asked to re-create, from memory, an abstract painting they viewed two months earlier. A fascinating psychological exercise, to be sure-but the experiment will soon become much more than a session with paints and brushes. This program documents the volunteers' unwitting immersion in a staged crime, which they witness during a "break" in what they think is the real test. When a lunch-time pub patron is apparently murdered and the Greater Manchester police department invades the premises, each test subject must summon his or her recollections of the ordeal. Viewers discover how and why these memories prove disturbingly unreliable.
2010; 2009

Eyewitness [electronic resource]: Who Did It?

Relieved that a recent stabbing was, in fact, an event staged to test their memories, ten volunteers agree to undergo a second nightmare-an armed robbery during which one of them is abducted. This program records the assault and its scientific ramifications. Thanks to tiny eye-tracking cameras, experts can determine exactly what each test subject focused on when confronted by the shockingly convincing assailants. Even so, a subsequent police lineup and experiments with facial-recognition technology can't prevent two innocent men from being wrongly identified. Detectives must complete elaborate cross-referencing procedures to compensate for faulty witness memories.
2010; 2009

Eyewitness [electronic resource]: When the Only Witness Is Also the Victim

On January 22, 1992, a real estate agent named Stephanie Slater was subdued, gagged at knifepoint, and held captive for eight days. This program explores her ordeal as a case study in memory-aided investigation; it also juxtaposes Slater's case with an extended psychology experiment in which ten volunteers have taken part to assess the value of eyewitness testimony. Illustrating the phenomenon known as contextual reinstatement and its central role in cognitive interviewing, the film highlights recently developed technologies that might help improve the memories of the test participants. A cognition-related encephalitis case study is also included.
2010; 2009