Wired's Brandon Keim highlights a new study review:
[Neuroscience researcher Shane] O’Mara derides the belief that extreme stress produces reliable memory as “folk neurobiology” that “is utterly unsupported by scientific evidence.” The hippocampus and prefrontal cortex the brain’s centers of memory processing, storage and retrieval are profoundly altered by stress hormones. Keep the stress up long enough, and it will “result in compromised cognitive function and even tissue loss,” warping the minds that interrogators want to read.
What’s more, tortured suspects might not even realize when they’re lying. Frontal lobe damage can produce false memories: As torture is maintained for weeks or months or years, suspects may incorporate their captors’ allegations into their own version of reality.
Only Dick Cheney believed that brain-washing techniques devised by the Communist Chinese could deliver accurate intelligence.