Throughout history, humans in society have had a need to determine the identity of individuals who have committed crimes. In the last century, there has been unprecedented progress in developing accurate, scientific methodologies for
Connecting a suspect with a crime. This paper reports the discovery of Brain Fingerprinting, a new technology that uses brain waves to connect evidence stored in the brain of a suspect with evidence connected with a crime, and discusses Brain Fingerprinting from the perspective of scientific progress in criminal investigations.
The promise of this new technology is to provide an accurate and scientific means through which perpetrators can be identified, and the innocent can be cleared, based on the evidence from the one place where a comprehensive record of every crime is stored: in the brain of the perpetrator. Brain Fingerprinting has been preceded by two major breakthroughs in criminal investigation in the last hundred years.
One of the great breakthroughs of modern criminal investigation came when it was discovered that human fingerprints A secondbreakthrough was the recent discover of"DNA fingerprinting." Like fingerprints, DNA can be used to connect or match evidence that is collected at the crime scene.
Although both DNA fingerprinting and conventional fingerprinting are highly accurate, they share two drawbacks. Both techniques involve considerable extra work and skill for investigators. Collecting and preserving fingerprints and biological samples involve significant costs in time, resources, and money. More serious drawback is DNA samples and fingerprints are found in only a very small percentage of cases about one in a hundred.
There is a tremendous need for other accurate, scientific means of matching evidence from the crime scene with evidence on the persons of suspects, particularly in the cases where no fingerprints or DNA samples are left at the scene.
This need has inspired some scientists to ask, "What does the criminal take with him from the crime scene that records his involvement in the crime?" T h e answer to this question, of course, is the brain. The brain of the criminal is always there, recording all of the events like a video camera -- and like his DNA and fingerprints,the brain always stays with the criminal.
Throughout the history of the criminal justice system, numerous technological innovations have signaled landmark changes in how authorities conduct investigations. From fingerprinting to DNA testing, these one-time technological marvels turned police investigation staples have shaped the way that justice is conceptualized in America, as well as the way in which society interacts and is influenced by law enforcement. One such new technology carries with it an emerging potential to revolutionize the investigatory landscape Brain Fingerprinting (“BF”) the law enforcement technology. The future of police investigations may very well be under construction in Seattle, Washington, where Dr.Lawrence A. Farwell has created Brain Fingerprinting Laboratories (“BFL”), a privately held company created to pursue the study and application of BF.BF testing, in a nutshell, is an examination designed to determine if particular information is familiar to a test subject in a specific context (such as that of a crime).Essentially, a BF test asks a suspect’s brain if it is familiar with a particular place, time, or action, and does so using brain monitoring technology that is nearly impossible to deceive. BF has been called “a perfect example of a technology at the tipping point making its way from the lab into our culture,” and “an intriguing, novel, scientific venture that is inching toward the doors of courtrooms everywhere.” Although BF may “sound like something straight out of a science-fiction movie” it is part of a growing trend of technological innovations that are rapidly coming to the forefront in today’s heightened level of security. As one commentator has explained, “These aren’t cinematic gadgets from a James Bond set. They are real world technologies that were on recently display for members of Congress as lawmakers consider new steps to beef up security at airports, border crossings, and other facilities around the country. The P300 event-related brain potential which is the key element of most of the published brainwave based deception research. The “Guilty Knowledge Test” or GKT, which in a form modified for P300 methods, yielded the P300 protocol for detecting concealed, crime-related information. The issue of P300-based tests’ accuracies Farwell claims that his method is based on a brain activity index, the “MERMER,” ("Memory and Encoding Related Multifaceted Electroencephalographic Response") which goes beyond P300 methods.
Farwell claims presently that the brain wave index crucial to all his assertions is the MERMER, or “Memory and Encoding Related Multifaceted Electroencephalographic Response .” He claims that the P300 event-related potential (ERP, discussed below) is but one element of the MERMER. It will be seen later that P300 is very likely the basis and essence of the MERMER. Indeed, at the Harrington Appeal hearing of 2000 Harrington vs Iowa 2000 In any case, it seems unlikely that Farwell would argue against the assertion that the P300 ERP was the brain wave which first impelled several investigators to study the potential of EEG waves as deception indices. The history of this ongoing research program will make this clear. First, however, a brief review of P300 phenomenology is in order. It is well known that between an electrode placed on the scalp surface directly over brain and another electrode connected to a relatively neutral (electrically) part of the head (i.e., remote from brain cells, such as the earlobe), an electrical voltage, varying as a function of time, exists. These voltages comprise the spontaneously ongoing electroencephalogram or EEG, and are commonly known as brain waves. If during the recording of EEG, a discrete stimulus event occurs, such as a light flash or tone pip, the EEG breaks into a series of larger peaks and troughs lasting up to two seconds after the stimulus. These waves, signaling the arrival in cortex of neural activity generated by the stimulus, comprise the wave series called the ERP, the EEG potential series related to the stimulus event. Actually, the ERP “rides on” the ongoing EEG, by which it is sometimes obscured in single trials. Thus, one typically averages the EEG samples of many repeated presentation trials of either the same stimulus or stimulus category (e.g., male names), and the ensuing averaged stimulus-related activity is revealed as the ERP, while the non-stimulus-related features of the EEG average out, approaching a straight line. P300 is a special ERP which results whenever a meaningful piece of information is rarely presented as a stimulus among a random series of more frequently presented, non-meaningful stimuli.
1.2 EARLY P300-BASED DECEPTION DETECTORS
Fabiani, Karis, and Donchin, (1983) showed that if a list of words, consisting of rare, previously learned (i.e., meaningful) and frequent novel words were presented one at a time to a subject, the familiar, previously learned words but not the others elicited a P300. As suggested above, Rosenfeld, Nasman, Whalen,Cantwell, Mazzeri (1987) recognized that the Fabiani et a. (1983) study suggested that P300 could be used to detect concealed guilty knowledge, i.e., P300 could be used as a potential lie detector: Therefore, P300 could index recognition of familiar items even if subjects denied recognizing them. From this fact, one could infer deception. The P300 would not represent a lie per se, but only recognition of a familiar item of information, the verbal denial of which would then imply deception. Farwell has also emphasized this distinction on his web site, although as an academic nicety which in no way affects the claims of the BF approach. Farwell and Smith (2001), however, seem to have over-extended this distinction: “Brain MERMER testing has almost nothing in common with ‘lie detection’ or polygraphy. Polygraphy is a technique of interrogation and detection of deception Brain MERMER testing does not require any questions of or answers from the suspect. The subject neither lies nor tells the truth during the procedure, and in fact the results of MERMER testing are exactly the same whether the subject lies or tells the truth at any time.” This assertion is misleading: In fact the subject does give behavioral button press responses. One button means “No, I don’t recognize this stimulus.” If the guilty subject presses this no button to a guilty knowledge item, he is lying with his button press, if not his voice. Lying is the clear inference if there is no other innocuous explanation for the brain response, and there is no doubt that P300/MERMER testing is clearly relevant to lie detection. Indeed, the terms “Interrogative polygraphy” and “lie detection” are in the subtitle of Farwell and Donchin (1991), Farwell’s only peer-reviewed paper on P300-based deception detection in a psychology, neuroscience or psychophysiology journal. Finally, when Farwell and Smith (2001; not a journal in psychology, psychophysiology, or neuroscience) stated, “in fact the results of MERMER testing are exactly the same whether the subject lies or tells the truth,” they are incorrect (about the major P300 element of MERMER), and, not surprisingly, did not cite any supportive literature. In fact, there are many peer-reviewed, published studies in which the opposite is shown, and it is discussed why truthful subjects in fact produce much larger P300s than subjects giving dishonest responses to the same questions (e.g., Ellwanger, J. Rosenfeld, , Hankin, & Sweet, 1999; Miller, A.R., Rosenfeld, J.P., Soskins, M., Jhee, M. 2000; Rosenfeld, Rao, Soskins, & Miller, 2003,). Soon after seeing Fabiani et al. (1983), our lab planned and executed a study (Rosenfeld, Cantwell, Nasman, Wojdak, Ivanov, & Mazzeri, 1988) in which subjects pretended to steal one of ten items from a box. Later, the items were repeatedly presented to the subject by name, one at a time, on a display screen, and we found that the items the subjects pretended to steal (the probes), but not the other, irrelevant items, evoked P300 in 9 of 10 cases. In that study there was also one special, unpredictably presented stimulus item, the target, to which the subjects were required to respond by saying “yes” so as to assure us they were paying attention to the screen at all times, and would thus not miss probe presentations. They said “no” to all the other items, signaling non-recognition, and thus lying on trials containing the pretended stolen items. The special target items also evoked P300, as one might expect, since they too were rare and meaningful (task-relevant). (The 1988 study was actually the second of two closely related publications, the first having been published as Rosenfeld . et al., 1987.) This paradigm had many features of the guilty knowledge test (GKT) paradigm (developed by Lykken in 1959; see Lykken, 1998) except that P300s rather than autonomic variables were used as the indices of recognition. This required various other departures from the classic GKT method, such as signal averaging and target stimuli. Farwell and Donchin (1991) reported that in the 20 guilty cases, correct decisions were possible in all but two cases, a detection rate of 90%. Indeed, this was not impressive given that the subjects were trained to remember the details of their crimes, a procedure having limited ecological validity in field circumstances in which training of a suspect on details of a crime he/she was denying would not be possible. In the innocent condition, only 85% were correctly classified, yielding an overall detection rate of 87.5%. In the second experiment of Farwell and Donchin, (1991), the four volunteering subjects were all previously admitted wrongdoers on the college campus. Their crime details were well-detected with P300, but these previously admitted wrongdoers no doubt had had much rehearsal of their crimes at the hands of campus investigators, teachers, parents, etc. Therefore, one can ask: was the P300 test detecting incidentally acquired information versus previously admitted, well rehearsed information? Moreover, the n=4 was hardly convincing, and in one of the four innocent tests, no decision could be rendered, meaning that a correct decision was possible in only three of four (75%) innocent cases.