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Published on Feb 12, 2016

Abstract

Brain fingerprinting is based on finding that the brain generates a unique brain wave pattern when a person encounters a familiar stimulus Use of functional magnetic resonance imaging in lie detection derives from studies suggesting that persons asked to lie show different patterns of brain activity than they do when being truthful. Issues related to the use of such evidence in courts are discussed. The author concludes that neither approach is currently supported by enough data regarding its accuracy in detecting deception to warrant use in court.

Description of Brain Fingerprinting

Brain Fingerprinting is a controversial proposed investigative technique that measures recognition of familiar stimuli by measuring electrical brain wave responses to words, phrases, or pictures that are presented on a computer screen. Brain fingerprinting was invented by Lawrence Farwell. The theory is that the suspect's reaction to the details of an event or activity will reflect if the suspect had prior knowledge of the event or activity. This test uses what Farwell calls the MERMER ("Memory and Encoding Related Multifaceted Electroencephalographic Response") response to detect familiarity reaction. One of the applications is lie detection. Dr. Lawrence A. Farwell has invented, developed, proven, and patented the technique of Farwell Brain Fingerprinting, a new computer-based technology to identify the perpetrator of a crime accurately and scientifically by measuring brain-wave responses to crime-relevant words or pictures presented on a computer screen.

Technique

The person to be tested wears a special headband with electronic sensors that measure the electroencephalography from several locations on the scalp. In order to calibrate the brain fingerprinting system, the testee is presented with a series of irrelevant stimuli, words, and pictures, and a series of relevant stimuli, words, and pictures. The test subject's brain response to these two different types of stimuli allow the testor to determine if the measured brain responses to test stimuli, called probes, are more similar to the relevant or irrelevant responses.

The technique uses the well known fact that an electrical signal known as P300 is emitted from an individual's brain approximately 300 milliseconds after it is confronted with a stimulus of special significance, e.g. a rare vs. a common stimuls or a stimulas the proband is asked to count. The novel interpretation in brain fingerprinting is to look for P300 as response to stimuli related to the crime in question e.g., a murder weapon or a victim's face. Because it is based on EEG signals, the system does not require the testee to issue verbal responses to questions or stimuli.

 

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