Christine Blasey Ford who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault was pretty much correct when she cited the science of memory.
The professor of psychology stood in front of the Senate committee on Thursday, Sept. 27, to give her testimony regarding the alleged attack that happened in the 80s when she and the Supreme Court nominee were teenagers.
Christine Blasey Ford's Testimony-Turned-Psychology Lesson
"How are you so sure that it was he?" Senator Dianne Feinstein questioned Ford.
To answer, the psychologist who teaches at Stanford University and Palo Alto University launched into an explanation about how the human brain works. She cited the neurotransmitter epinephrine, the chemical messengers in the brain that code memories into the hippocampus where "the trauma-related experience is locked" when other details became fuzzy.
Ford had come forward with an allegation of sexual assault days before the Senate Judiciary Committee was set to vote on the Supreme Court confirmation of Kavanaugh. She revealed that several years ago during a school party in Maryland, Kavanaugh pushed her into bed, tried to take off her clothes, and covered her mouth with the intent to rape her.
While she could not recall some details from the encounter, such as the exact date it happened and how she got home after, she also named Mark Judge as another person present when the alleged attack happened. She said that Judge was also in the room and might have helped push her into the bed.
Later, she said that the sound of Kavanaugh laughing about the assault with another person was "indelible in the hippocampus."
Throughout the testimony, Ford also discussed other psychological principles, including her experience of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. She also explained how the assault might have contributed to her experience of the aforementioned conditions.
The Science Of Memory
Experts in the field sided with Ford and said that the university professor pretty much nailed the science of memory during her testimony.
Elizabeth Phelps, a psychologist from Harvard University, explained that the chemicals in the brain cited during the testimony go up when a person is alarmed and help encode memories more vividly in the hippocampus. Lila Davachi of Columbia University said that the mechanisms help the brain recall "central parts of an emotional experience."
Meanwhile, Kavanaugh, who continues to deny that the sexual assault happened, may not be lying. He could have a firm belief that he did not attack Ford that night because his memory might have been altered either because of alcohol or because he considered it "just playing around."
"Confidence is not a good guide to whether or not someone is telling the truth," explained Nora Newcombe, Temple University psychology professor. "If they think they're telling the truth, they could plausibly both be confident about it."
Three other women have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct since Ford's story came out.