'Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter': Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist, appears before senators as her own expert witness

  • Christine Blasey Ford is sure that Brett Kavanaugh is the person who she says sexually assaulted her when she was a 15-year-old high school student in Maryland.
  • When lawmakers asked her how she could be so sure during a contentious hearing Thursday, it was not that 15-year-old high school student who answered, but instead the person who Ford is now: A 51-year-old research psychologist, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee as her own expert witness.
  • "That neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus, and so the trauma-related experience then is kind of locked there whereas other details kind of drift," Ford said Thursday.

Christine Blasey Ford says she is sure that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is the person who sexually assaulted her when she was a 15-year-old high school student in Maryland.

But during a contentious hearing Thursday, when lawmakers asked how she could be so confident of that assertion — which Kavanaugh has categorically denied — it was not that 15-year-old high school student who answered, but instead the person who Ford is now: A 51-year-old research psychologist, appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee as her own expert witness.

"How are you so sure that it was he?" Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the top-ranking Democrat on the committee asked Ford on Thursday.

"The same way that I'm sure that I'm talking to you right now, just basic memory functions, and also just the level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain," Ford said. "That neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus, and so the trauma-related experience then is kind of locked there whereas other details kind of drift."

Feinstein then asked whether it could have been a case of mistaken identity.

"Absolutely not," Ford responded.

Ford is a professor of psychology and statistics at Palo Alto University, who has written prolifically about the long-term impacts of trauma, including trauma related to sexual abuse of children. She is the co-author of more than 50 scientific books and publications, according to a Wall Street Journal tally.

Later, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked Ford to name her strongest memory of the event, which Ford alleges took place in the summer of 1982.

"Indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two, and their having fun at my expense," she said.

Kavanaugh, who will address lawmakers after Ford on Thursday, is expected to tell the Senate committee that he is "not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time."

"But I have never done that to her or to anyone. I am innocent of this charge," he will say, according to his prepared remarks.

For her part, Ford said Thursday that she is "100 percent" sure that she was assaulted by Kavanaugh.

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