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Examining Cognitive Functioning Following TASER Exposure: A Randomized Controlled Trial

NCJ Number
Applied Cognitive Psychology Volume: 29 Issue: 4 Dated: July/August 2015 Pages: 600-607
Date Published
August 2015
8 pages

In the current study, healthy human volunteers were randomly assigned to four groups, two of which received a TASER exposure. Participants completed a battery of cognitive tests before and after receiving their assigned treatment.


Individuals who experience electrical injury suffer significant, sometimes long-term deficits in neuropsychological functioning. The TASER, an electrical device used by thousands of police departments, generates a high-voltage (up to 50V), low-amperage (2.1 mA) current of electricity that is designed to disable a resistive criminal suspect. Questions have emerged regarding the potential for TASER exposure to cause impairment in cognitive functioning. Participants in the current study who received a TASER exposure experienced statistically meaningful declines in measures of verbal learning and memory, although deficits lasted less than 1 hour. After TASER exposure, participants also self-reported significant difficulties with concentration, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed. Other dimensions of cognitive functioning were not affected. The findings show that the effects of TASER exposure on brain functioning are not well understood. (Publisher abstract modified) 

Date Published: August 1, 2015