Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Neuropsychology of Evidence: A Quick Summary

A picture is worth a thousand words...

A recent post in a trial litigation blog I follow added an interesting factoid to my knowledge of human information processing that's relevant  in the courtroom:

Human beings acquire 85% of their knowledge through their vision.

This interesting fact lines up nicely with these related factoids which are gleaned from hundreds of research studies on human memory.  Human beings REMEMBER:

30% of what they only HEAR                  (the traditional lawyer's limitation)
65% of what they HEAR and SEE          (the multimedia advantage)
90% of what they INTERACT with      (the video game enthrallment factor)

This is easy to understand if you remember the differences in the size of the physiological receiving channel for each sense and the dramatically different speeds at which they process incoming information.

Auditory information is processed at 15-50 bits per second.
Visual information is processed at about 250 Million bits per second  PER EYE.
Somatosensory data processing rates are less, but there are many more channels, so the total amount of data processed is larger than for the visual channels, most of it out of our conscious  awareness.

And, just to make it interesting, only 0.01 % of all brain activity is experienced CONSCIOUSLY--the vast majority happens outside our conscious awareness.

So what does all this esoteric science mean for trial attorneys? Three lessons occur to me. They are:

1. The less time you have, the more demonstrative visual evidence you need.
2. Anytime you can, let the jury interact with (handle your evidence).
3.  Just talking should be your last option, no matter who the trier of fact may be. (Judges are people too)

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