A brainwave of an idea

BRAIN FINGERPRINTING: lie detectors of the 21st century

AS great programmes such as CSI will show us, science plays a central role in catching a killer or criminal in the 21st century. In the past, innocent people have been fried in electric chairs or had a noose put around their neck due to shoddy evidence against their names.

Modern day lie detectors (or polygraphs) have made judgment of crime suspects a little easier, yet they are not 100% accurate. However, a neuroscientist in Seattle has recently developed a device that incorporates his concept of ‘brain fingerprinting.’

Brain fingerprinting involves using an odd looking headband, flashing words and images on a computer screen, and a couple clicks of a mouse to determine whether or not a suspect is guilty or plain unlucky.

“It’s a game changer in the field of global security,” said Dr. Larry Farwell, Chairman of Brain Fingerprinting Labs who developed “brain fingerprinting” – a lie detector test for the 21st century.

Brain fingerprinting in action

A rather nervous looking inmate takes the test

While polygraph tests rely on emotional responses, brain fingerprinting records how your brain reacts to words and images related to a crime. Obviously the reaction of someone who recognises such images would be notably different than the brain reactions of an innocent suspect.

“If the person was there, they get an ‘ah ha!’ response in the brain waves,” said Farwell, “and it is this ‘ah ha!’ moment that can’t be covered up.”

“It’s an involuntary response that happens very quickly; it’s not something you can control,” he said. The solidness of such evidence is further backed by the idea that the brain can’t tell a lie.

Farwell claims that his technology is fool-proof, and unlike polygraphs, brain fingerprinting can be admitted in court. However, there is still resistance from some law enforcement agencies to employ the use of such technology.

“It took some time, it always takes time,” Farwell said. “It took time for fingerprints, for DNA and now for brain fingerprinting.” But Farwell feels confident that his guarantee will help more people accept it.

  • Dr. Farwell has worked with the CIA, FBI and law enforcement agencies around the United States. His cases include an innocent Iowa man finally freed after 23 years, and a serial killer in Missouri who eventually confessed.

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Galen (name), meaning: "Curious One". A lover of language, human ingenuity and the forces of the universe. Hugely drawn towards the mysterious and unknown. Regular laughter and escapism essential.

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