Finally, some forensic technology that I’m really excited about. It’s called Brain Fingerprinting. And all you need is a suspect and details of the crime not known by the general public.
Brain fingerprinting was developed by Dr. Lawrence Farwell and a team of innovators at Brain Laboratories in Seattle, Washington. The CIA funded Farwell’s research with more than $1 million and his staff now includes a former FBI agent.
How accurate is the test?
According to Dr. Farwell, in over 170 tests, the Brain Fingerprinting system was extremely accurate. In cases where a determination of "information present" or "information absent" was made, 100% of the determinations were correct…. More than 80 cases were real-life situations, and the rest were laboratory studies. Brain Fingerprinting testing did not make a single error in all of these cases.
Here’s how it works (info taken from Farwell’s website http://www.brainwavescience.com/):
“The fundamental difference between the perpetrator of a crime and an innocent person is that the perpetrator, having committed the crime, has the details of the crime stored in his memory, and the innocent suspect does not. This is what Brainfingerprinting testing detects scientifically, the presence or absence of specific information.
In a Brainfingerprinting test, relevant words, pictures or sounds are presented to a subject by a computer in a series with irrelevant and control stimuli. The brainwave responses to these stimuli are measured using a patented headband equipped with EEG sensors. The data is then analyzed to determine if the relevant information is present in the subject’s memory. A specific, measurable brain response known as a P300, is emitted by the brain of a subject who has the relevant information stored in his brain, but not by a subject who does not have this record in his brain.
In November 2000, an Iowa District Court held a hearing on Terry Harrington’s petition for post conviction relief. This hearing included an eight-hour session on the admissibility of the Brainfingerprinting test report. In March 2001, District Judge Timothy O’Grady ruled that Brainfingerprinting testing met the legal Daubert Standard for admissibility in court as scientific evidence. In their ruling on Harrington, the Iowa Supreme Court left undisturbed the law of the case establishing the admissibility of the Brainfingerprinting evidence."
And here’s a news story that put the technology to work:
'Brain fingerprint' fights crime
Mon, Oct 29, 2007
By EMILY STRANGER
Brunswick News (Brunswick, Georgia)
It sounds like something out of a novel of famed fictional writer Isaac Asimov.
But get with the times. The latest in forensic technology, called brain fingerprinting,
is already a smash hit among some law enforcement agencies across the U.S.
Now, Georgia is thinking about its application in the pursuit of the truth.
Before that can happen, it must pass the scrutiny of the law enforcement community and of Georgia legislators like Sen. Jeff Chapman, R-Brunswick.
Chapman is a member of the Senate subcommittee that is looking into whether or not to recommend that the state adopt the technique as an admissible form of evidence in future court proceedings.
Chapman and others met recently with the inventor of the technique, Lawrence Farwell, chief scientist of Brain Fingerprinting Laboratories, Inc.
Unlike fingerprinting, there is no ink involved. Instead, words, pictures or sounds are presented to a subject by a computer. The subject's brain wave responses to the stimuli are measured using a unique headband equipped with special sensors that pick up and measure brain waves. A specific brain response that can be measured and graphed is emitted by the brain of a subject who recognizes what is shown.
"It measures the 'Aha!' response," Farwell says. "Your brain says, 'Aha! I recognize this'."
Brain fingerprinting was used to prove the guilt of J.B. Grinder, a serial killer in Missouri, said Farwell.
"We showed Grinder pictures from the crime scene that only he would remember, like things taken from one of his victims," he says. "By reading his brain waves, it was clear that his brain recognized the details."
Farwell says the federal government hopes to utilize brain fingerprinting as an anti-terrorism tool.
"We showed in a recent study that (brain fingerprinting) can detect people who know how to make bomb and those who don't," he says.
Chapman says he hopes that brain fingerprinting will one day help the judicial system expedite a person's guilt or innocence.
"Any logical tool that we can discover to help law enforcement convict the criminal or exonerate the innocent is something we should give some serious consideration," he says.
"Not long ago, DNA was a strange technology to many and look how many cases it helps solve today."