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Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2011, $408,377)

The proposed research will examine the extent to which CEDs influence cognitive functioning and the consequences of those effects for the constitutionality of Miranda waivers. A pilot test will be conducted to examine the cognitive effects of the TASER on the ability of 20 police officers to complete three cognitive tests from the instrument pool, as well as Comprehension of Miranda Rights-Recognition (CMR-R) instrument. The instruments will be completed at various time intervals and the research team will design and carry out a randomized controlled trial (RCT) on a sample of student voluntees to test the effects of TASER exposure on cognitive functioning, using a repeated measures design. Participant recruitment and screening processes will be extensive including informed consent and medical histories. Study participants will be randomly assigned to one of four study groups: 1) Baseline, no physical exertion, no TASER; 2) Treatment 1, physical exertion only (intended to mimic suspect resistance); 3) Treatment 2, TASER only; 4) Treatment 3, physical exertion and TASER (n=25 for each condition). The study will be carried out at a public health clinic, and each participant will complete a battery of cognitive instruments at the screening stage; immediately before treatment exposure; immediately after completion of their treatment condition; one week later; and six months later. The final cognitive tests for the RCT and their administration sequence immediately post-treatment will be informed by the pilot study results. The study will assess participants' scores both within and across groups over time to assess change in cognitive functioning (e.g., repeated measures design). The proposed study represents the most extensive effort to date to explore the neuropsychological effects of the TASER. The proposed research will provide empirical evidence to inform courts' rulings on these key constitutional issues, and will offer clear lessons for police policy and practice with regard to use of CEDs, arrest and questioning of suspects.

Date Created: September 11, 2011