Upfront

New research finds that stun guns—also known as Tasers and used by two-thirds of the nation's law enforcement agencies—may impair people's cognitive functioning.

 In a study of 62 police officers, researchers at Rosalind Franklin University of Medical Science in Chicago and the University of Illinois found that police officers who had been "tased" during training drills fared worse than a control group in attention, processing speed and memory. The results, though preliminary, suggest that law enforcement agencies should reconsider their use of Tasers in training exercises and that researchers need to further investigate the potential long-term effects, says study co-author Neil Pliskin, PhD, a University of Illinois psychology professor.

"It's a provocative finding because the kinds of difficulties that were observed ... are the same kinds of changes we see in people who have suffered electrical shocks from accidents involving domestic power sources," Pliskin says.

--S. Dingfelder