Monday, December 7, 2009

Finding truth in the brain?

Technovelgy published an interesting article about the use of lie detectors tests in India, where results from the Brain Electrical Oscillations Signature (BEOS) tests are now accepted in courts of law. The case described is of a young woman, Aditi Sharma, who was accused of poisoning her former fiance in a McDonalds. She agreed to undergo the test, and:
After placing 32 electrodes on Ms. Sharma’s head, investigators said, they read aloud their version of events, speaking in the first person (“I bought arsenic”; “I met Udit at McDonald’s”), along with neutral statements like “The sky is blue,” which help the software distinguish memories from normal cognition.

For an hour, Ms. Sharma said nothing. But the relevant nooks of her brain where memories are thought to be stored buzzed when the crime was recounted, according to Mr. Joseph, the state investigator. The judge endorsed Mr. Joseph’s assertion that the scans were proof of “experiential knowledge” of having committed the murder, rather than just having heard about it.

Proof that she is guilty? The verdict is still out. The National Academy of Sciences states "Almost a century of research in scientific psychology and physiology provides little basis for the expectation that a polygraph test could have extremely high accuracy..."

To read the full article, see Indian Court Says Brain Scan Proves Murder.

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