India: “Soon, Investigators May Ride Brain Waves to Nail Culprits”

Ranjani Ramaswamy reports for The Indian Express. Excerpt:

Mumbai, January 7: WE wasted reams of newsprint wondering if Salman Khan had indeed been driving that night. His inebriation aside, how could it have been conclusively verified beyond any doubt that his was actually the hand on the steering wheel? The truth, concurs Dr C R Mukundan from NIMHANS (National Institute of Mental Health and Neural Sciences, Bangalore) lies permanently encoded in Khan’s own brain fingerprint.

”In fact, the Khan case would be an ideal case for brain fingerprinting, a process which is a gauge of actual experience. The actual experience of the perpetrator or witness is encoded in a very specific manner in his brain. This would be revealed during the course of the EEG (Electroencephalogram) and the carefully formulated probes used to stimulate his brain waves. Probes are the key words or phrases compiled with the help of the investigating officers, which act as a trigger for the person under scrutiny,” says Mukundan. So, if there was a red shirt on the crime scene that only the investigating policemen know about and the words ‘red shirt’ are used in the probe, the subject’s brain waves react in a telling manner, explains Mukundan, who is developing an indigenous form of brain fingerprinting in close collaboration with the Forensic Science Lab in Bangalore. His project has also been granted Rs 70 lakh by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting a few months ago.

Mukundan is participating in the All India Annual Conference on Forensic Science in the city.

Brain fingerprinting was originally developed in the early 1990s by Dr Lawrence Farwell, who created quite a stir with his patented technique. Farwell also managed to prove conclusively to the courts, years after a gruesome murder case, that the prime suspect who had been convicted for life since 1977, had in fact not committed the crime. His system has been touted the world over as 100 per cent accurate and is being used by all major investigation services across the globe.

”When Farwell’s paper came out, the repercussions were of course phenomenal and we all got excited. But I started taking special interest two years ago when we were working with the polygraph (lie detector) machines, which we found very inconvenient. In the polygraph the machine takes note of the subject’s supression or anxiety in divulging information. But with the brain fingerprinting we can go beyond that. We can figure out whether a person was actually on the crime scene or not, and what his subjective experience really was. In fact, with all this global terrorism, people are talking of putting gadgets and sensors at all airport doorways, where the brain fingerprint with the help of visual stimuli of all passengers would be recorded. So that one can predict if a person with a ‘terrorist experience’ is boarding the flight and they can at least be called for questioning,” adds Mukundan.

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