The Gist of Science Reporter: June 2015

The Gist of Science Reporter: June 2015

Closing Eyes To Boost Memory

In a study published in the journal Legal and Criminology Psychology, researchers from the University of Surrey have found further evidence to suggest that eyewitnesses to crimes remember more accurate details when they close their eyes. The team also discovered that building a rapport with witnesses also helped them to remember more. 178 participants took part across two studies. In the first experiment, participants watched a film depicting an electrician entering a property, carrying out jobs and stealing items. Each participant was then randomly assigned one of four conditions, either eyes closed or open, and having built up a rapport with the interviewer or not. They were then asked a series of questions about the film, such as ‘what was written on the front of the van?’ The team found that closing their eyes led participants to answer 23 percent more of the questions correctly. Building rapport also increased the number of correct answers, however, closing their eyes was effective regardless of whether rapport had been built or not.

The second experiment took the memory task one step further, by asking witnesses about things they had heard, as well as things they had seen. This time, participants watched a clip from Crimewatch, showing a reconstruction of a burglary where an elderly man was attacked in his home. Results showed that closing their eyes helped participants recall both audio and visual details, both when they had built rapport and when they had not.

Across both experiments, participants who did not build rapport said they felt less comfortable when they closed their eyes, compared to when they kept their eyes open. In contrast, participants who built rapport felt more comfortable when they closed their eyes. “It is clear from our research that closing the eyes and building rapport help with witness recall,” said lead author Dr Robert Nash from the University of Surrey. “Although closing your eyes to remember seems to work whether or not rapport has been built beforehand, our results show that building rapport makes witnesses more at ease with closing their eyes. That in itself is vital if we are to encourage witnesses to use this helpful technique during interviews.”

Canisterised Agni 5 ICBM Test-Fired Successfully

India’s ICBM Agni 5 was successfully test fired from a canister on 31 January 2015. The 17-m long, 50-ton ICBM majestically lifted into the sky to a height of more than 600 km. Commanded by the on-board computer and the highly accurate ring laser gyro-based inertial navigation system, the missile hit the designated target point accurately, meeting all mission objectives.

India’s first ever ICBM launch from a canister is a giant leap in the country’s deterrence capability. The earlier two successful flights of Agni 5 were in open configuration and had already proved the missile. The recent launch from a canister integrated with a mobile sophisticated launcher enables launch of the missile with a very short preparation time as compared to an open launch. It also has advantages of higher reliability, longer shelf life, less maintenance and enhanced mobility.

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