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Research Summary

This study reports findings from a randomized controlled trial that examined the effects of the TASER® (a conducted energy weapon sold by TASER International, Scottsdale, Arizona) on several dimensions of cognitive functioning. The research demonstrated that in a sample of healthy human volunteer participants, TASER exposure led to significant and substantial reductions in (a) short-term auditory recall and (b) abilities to assimilate new information through auditory processes. The effects lasted up to 1 hour for most subjects, almost all of whom returned to baseline 60 minutes postexposure.

Policy Implications

The study applies the findings of reduced cognitive functioning among healthy participants in a laboratory setting to criminal suspects in field settings and questions the abilities of “average” suspects to waive their Miranda rights knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily within 60 minutes of a TASER exposure. The study poses the question: What would it cost police to wait 60 minutes after a TASER deployment before engaging suspects in custodial interrogations?