U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

TASER Exposure and Cognitive Impairment: Implications for Valid Miranda Waivers and the Timing of Police Custodial Interrogations

NCJ Number
Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 15 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2016 Pages: 79-107
Date Published
December 2015
29 pages

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 post-exposure. 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? (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: December 1, 2015