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BU's Advanced CSI Course: Session 2

by Paul Saulnier
April 11, 2014

Memory & Investigation and Forensic Photography

 Tara Moore, PhD, opened the session with an introduction of today's speakers.

Professor Mark Moss, PhD, received his doctorate in Psychology from Northeastern University and completed postdoctoral training at Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Neuroanatomy and Neuropsychology.Dr. Moss joined the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at BU in 1982 and has served as its Chairman since 1998.

Gary Reinecke has a BS in Criminal Justice and a MA in Criminology. SSA Reinecke spent 10 years with the Columbus, Ohio Police Department. SSA Reinecke joined the FBI in 1986 and served as a field agent in Phoenix and Detroit where he was assigned to organized crime, bank robberies and drug investigations. In 1998 SSA Reinecke was promoted and transferred to the FBI Laboratory where he was assigned to the Evidence Response Team program. SSA Reinecke joined the staff at the BU School of Medicine, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology in January, 2011.

Dr. Moss promised to teach the class 150 - 200 new words and give us several memory tests to help explain how human brains work as compared to non-human brains.

He explained that Executive Function is how we make plans, unlike most creatures who operate on instinct alone. Have you ever noticed that pets do not recognize themselves in a mirror? And generally a human has to be at least three years old to recognize themselves in a mirror. Chimps also recognize themselves.

Human brains are fully developed by the age of 25. Signs of decline begin to show by the age of 30.

Dr. Moss posted a picture of the first Apple computer board to demonstrate the difference in power requirements of the early computers, requiring a room full of equipment and air conditioners to the power required to operate our brains - a mere 13 watts. We learned that some memory tasks require more than the 13 watts available and that's why we can't remember everything. Write down six random numbers then recite them. It happens quickly and easily. Now write down eight numbers and recite them in reverse order. Power overload.

Remember when people made jokes about lobotomies? They were the "in" thing to do to mental patients who were a problem back in the 50s. And they were so easy to do. According to Dr. Moss, the operation was performed by inserting a $2.00 ice pick above the eye through the paper-thin bone that supports the brain and into the the base of the frontal lobe, disconnecting the entire frontal lobes.

Dr. Walter Freeman II, above right, became Mr. Lobotomy, taking his ice pick on the road in his Lobotomobile, and performing over 1,000 lobotomies. He was a publicity hound and often invited the press to watch. Stepping up his act, he performed two lobotomies at one time with an ice pick in each hand. But he killed one of the patients and his licence to "practice" was revoked.

Dr. Moss used this picture of luggage, below, scanned for security to point out that, unlike those of us who see objects that we recognize, agents are trained to look for objects that they don't recognize.

The Stroop test, above, is designed to identify brain damage and is especially useful in testing athletes who may have sufferred a concussion. If you look at the the list of words and can only say the color, not the word, you may have some damage.

Dr. Moss explained that only 5% of short term memory is retained while 95% of our long term memory is retained.

Retired FBI Agent Gary Reinecke explained the theory and practice behind crime scene investigations, like the tragedy in Waco, Texas, shown above.

All photos taken are logged and retained. None can be altered in any manner, whether it be on a roll of film or in digital format. Pictures of a scene that require several shots are overlaid by 10% to prove that nothing is left out.

Much more information about the funtions of the human brain and crime scene photography was taught to the class in the short two hours we were there. It has been a great experience.


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