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The impact of sleep on eyewitness identifications.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Article number170501
Number of pages16
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
DateAccepted/In press - 14 Nov 2019
DatePublished (current) - 4 Dec 2019


Sleep aids the consolidation of recently acquired memories. Evidence strongly indicates that sleep yields substantial improvements on recognition memory tasks relative to an equivalent period of wake. Despite the known benefits that sleep has on memory, researchers have not yet investigated the impact of sleep on eyewitness identifications. Eyewitnesses to crimes are often presented with a line-up (which is a type of recognition memory test) that contains the suspect (who is innocent or guilty) and fillers (who are known to be innocent). Sleep may enhance the ability to identify the guilty suspect and not identify the innocent suspect (i.e. discriminability). Sleep may also impact reliability (i.e. the likelihood that the identified suspect is guilty). In the current study, we manipulated the presence or the absence of sleep in a forensically relevant memory task. Participants witnessed a video of a mock crime, made an identification or rejected the line-up, and rated their confidence. Critically, some participants slept between witnessing the crime and making a line-up decision, while others remained awake. The prediction that participants in the sleep condition would have greater discriminability compared to participants in the wake condition was not supported. There were also no differences in reliability.

    Research areas

  • sleep, memory, eyewitness identification, discriminability, confidence-accuracy relationship, line-ups

    Structured keywords

  • Cognitive Science

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    Licence: CC BY


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