Imagine being held up at gunpoint. Do you trust you could remember the perpetrator’s face? The gun? Or would you have a better recollection of how loud the birds were chirping at that moment?
“The memory does not operate like a videotape machine faithfully recording every single detail,” said Richard J. McNally, a professor of psychology at Harvard University and the author of “Remembering Trauma.”
“The thing that is happening is that you’re focusing on the most dangerous thing,” he said. “That is the function of fear: to alert you to imminent threats.”
Stress can play a role in eyewitness cases of mistaken identity, experts said, and it could be a reason there were such conflicting accounts of the suspects in the shooting death of Jazmine Barnes, the 7-year-old Texas girl who was fired upon in a car with her mother and three sisters on Dec. 30.
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