CIA Interrogations Caused Brain Damage: Scientist

Harsh techniques damaged subject's facility for recall
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 21, 2009 3:26 PM CDT
Mike Morice, center, and other members of World Can't Wait group perform a live waterboarding demonstration outside the Spanish Consulate in Manhattan, Thursday, April 23, 2009 in New York.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

(Newser) – The CIA's harsh interrogations are likely to have damaged the brains of terrorist suspects, diminishing their ability to recall and provide the detailed information the spy agency sought, according to a new scientific paper. The paper scrutinizes the techniques used by the CIA under the Bush administration through the lens of neurobiology and determines the methods to be counterproductive, no matter how much the suspects might have eventually talked.

Shane O'Mara, a professor at Ireland's Trinity College, wrote that the interrogation techniques appear based on "folk psychology"—a layman's idea of how the brain works. Prolonged sleep deprivation, being chained in painful positions, exploitation of  phobias, and waterboarding cause the brain to release stress hormones that, if their release is repeated and prolonged, may result in compromised brain function and even tissue loss, O'Mara wrote.