Professor Loftus studies human memory, and in particular, the malleability of human memory. Her research has revealed how memories can be changed by subsequent experiences. The “misinformation effect” is a phenomenon in which the memories of eyewitnesses are changed by exposure to false information. In addition to conducting her own research in the laboratory, Professor Loftus applies her research to the legal setting, providing expert witness testimony in the court. Her involvement in the court, which has exposed the unreliable nature of eyewitness testimonies and her research on how humans can develop very vivid memories for events that never actually occurred has come with criticism and has lead to decades of abuse such as death threats and lawsuits.
The Maddox prize is an international award which is presented jointly by Nature, the Kohn Foundation and the charity Sense about Science for courage in promoting science and evidence on a matter of public interest despite facing difficulty and hostility in doing so. Congratulations to Professor Loftus.