‘Brain fingerprinting’ may soon serve NZ justice

by Sol Dolor26 Apr 2017
It may soon be much more efficient to bring criminals to justice in New Zealand thanks to “brain fingerprinting.”

University of Canterbury academics have found that forensic brainwave analysis (FBA) has potential to help solve crime in the country. The technology measures involuntary brainwave responses that tell whether a person recognises certain information.

It’s very hard to cheat because it uses an EEG machine to measure certain brainwave responses, which can then be used to determine whether a person has information they may be trying to conceal. FBA has already been successfully used in tests and court cases in the US to help prove both guilt and innocence.

The technology can help narrow suspect pools, or help determine whether a person is a witness to an incident, thereby allowing agencies to allocate resources better.

“The project team’s overall conclusion was that the verification experiment results provide a solid platform for further research into FBA technology, towards the goal of applying it in police investigations and the New Zealand legal system,” said Professor Robin Palmer, who co-led the project team with Associate Professor Debra Wilson.

Palmer and Wilson worked with American FBA expert Dr Larry Farwell to complete the year-long study in New Zealand, with the support of a grant from the NZ Law Foundation. The team worked with New Zealand Police and Corrections Services, and used supervised student researchers to carry out experiments to observe, test, analyse, and verify the technology.

“We are encouraged by the potential of this technology to assist in forensic investigations in the future,” said Supt. John Price, Canterbury Police District commander.

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