In her testimony to a Senate committee, the woman who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers dipped briefly into the mechanics of memory. Experts say she got it pretty much right.
When asked Thursday how she could be sure it was Kavanaugh who put a hand over her mouth to keep her quiet, psychologist Christine Blasey Ford cited levels of chemical messengers called norepinephrine and epinephrine in her brain at the time of the alleged attack.
She said those chemicals helped encode memories in a brain region called the hippocampus, so that the main memory was “locked there” while other details “kind of drift.”
Later, she said a memory of Kavanaugh and another teen laughing during the assault was “indelible in the hippocampus.”
Memories are not highly detailed recordings of events retrieved with perfect accuracy. They are shaped by beliefs and expectations. For that reason, experts told The Associated Press last week that both Ford and Kavanaugh, who denies that any assault happened, may both firmly believe what they say.