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Neurobiology of Sexual Assault 2-Part Webinar Series: Part 2
Monday, September 19th, 2016
11:00 AM PT/12:00 PM MT/1:00 PM CT/2:00 PM ET

Part 2: Experience and Memory

Traumatic experiences have immediate, powerful and potentially long-lasting effects on the human brain. This presentation explains how fear and trauma can alter brain functioning during sexual assault, and alter the encoding and storage of memories in ways that are, unfortunately, still commonly misunderstood by many who work with victims of sexual assault.

Participants will learn about the key brain circuitries impacted by fear and trauma, including the prefrontal cortex and the circuitries of fear and episodic memory. Participants will come to understand brain-based aspects of memory encoding, storage and retrieval that determine what can later be recalled and not recalled, including in investigative interviews and in court. This presentation provides a critical foundation for learning and applying trauma-informed responses with people who have been sexually assaulted.


Following this webinar series, participants will be better able to:

  • Understand key brain circuitries impacted by fear and trauma.
  • Recognize common brain-based impacts of trauma on attention and memory encoding and storage.
  • Understand and utilize interviewing methods most likely to help sexual assault victims recall and report the most complete and accurate memories possible.



Picture of James Hopper

James W. Hopper, Ph.D.
Clinical psychologist and independent consultant, Teaching Associate in Psychology, Harvard Medical School, and nationally recognized expert on psychological trauma.

Dr. Hopper is an independent consultant and Teaching Associate in Psychology at Harvard Medical School. For over 25 years Dr. Hopper's research, clinical and consulting work has focused on the psychological and biological effects of child abuse, sexual assault and other traumatic experiences. As a clinician Dr. Hopper works with adults who have experienced abuse as children or sexual assault as adolescents or adults. In his forensic work, both criminal and civil, he testifies on short- and long-term impacts of child abuse and sexual assault. Dr. Hopper was a founding board member and longtime advisor to 1in6 and served on the Peace Corps Sexual Assault Advisory Council. He consults and teaches nationally and internationally to military and civilian investigators, prosecutors, victim advocates, commanders and higher education administrators.

This project is supported by Grant No. 2013-TA-AX-K045 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

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