A Seattle scientist who has developed an electronic brain test that he says could improve our ability to force criminals to reveal themselves, identify potential terrorists, and free those wrongly convicted may have finally broken through the bureaucratic barriers that he believes have served to stifle adoption of the technique, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “There seems to be a renewed surge of interest in this by the intelligence agencies and the military,” said Larry Farwell, neuroscientist and founder of Brain Fingerprinting Laboratories based at the Seattle Science Foundation.
The technique he calls “brain fingerprinting” is an electronic test of a specific kind of brain wave that he says can identify incriminating information despite an individual’s attempt to conceal the knowledge. “The lack of acceptance has been more about turf than science,” said Drew Richardson, a former anti-terrorism investigator with the FBI in Virginia who teaches forensic science and also consults with Farwell. Law enforcement and other investigatory agencies still routinely use the standard lie detector “polygraph” stress test today even though most scientific organizations (including the National Academy of Sciences) have found the polygraph to be highly unreliable — a finding that makes it legally inadmissible in court.