Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What is Brain Fingerprinting?
Brain Fingerprinting is a forensic tool that can objectively determine whether an individual possesses concealed or privileged information related to a specific crime, terrorism, intelligence, significant event, or other types of specific information.
- How does it work?
The fundamental difference between the perpetrator of a terrorist act or crime and an innocent person is that the perpetrator, having committed the crime, has specific knowledge of the crime stored in his brain. An innocent suspect does not. Similarly, a terrorist mastermind or trained terrorist has specific terrorism-related knowledge stored in his brain. This is what Brain Fingerprinting testing detects, scientifically and accurately.
Words, phrases, or pictures relevant to a terrorist act, crime, terrorist training, or specific knowledge or expertise are presented on a computer screen, in a series with other, irrelevant words, phrases or pictures. A suspect’s brainwave responses are measured non-invasively using a headset equipped with EEG sensors. A proprietary computer program then analyzes the data to determine if the crime-relevant information is stored in the brain. A specific “P300-MERMER” brain response is emitted by the brain of a perpetrator who has the details of a crime stored in his brain, but not by an innocent suspect lacking this record in his brain. This is proven by extensive peer-reviewed, published scientific research.
- Why is it called Brain Fingerprinting?
The term ‘brain fingerprinting’ is based on the defining feature of matching something on the person of the suspect with something from the crime scene. Fingerprinting matches prints at the crime scene with prints on the fingers of the suspect. DNA ‘fingerprinting’ matches biological samples from the crime scene with biological samples from the suspect. Brain Fingerprinting matches information stored in the brain of the suspect with information from the crime scene.
- What does a Brain Fingerprinting test determine?
A Brain Fingerprinting test determines scientifically whether or not specific information is stored in a brain. In the case of a crime, we use information that would be known only to the perpetrator and the investigators, and not to an innocent suspect. The system makes a determination of “information present” or “information absent,” and computes a statistical confidence for the respective determination. This is done by a mathematical algorithm, and does not depend on subjective interpretation of the data.
- How long does it take to conduct a Brain Fingerprinting test?
One Brain Fingerprinting test can take about 40 minutes to complete and get results.
- How accurate is a Brain Fingerprinting test?
Brain Fingerprinting testing has proven to be highly accurate including actual criminal cases, tests on FBI agents and tests on military medical experts. In all but six of these cases, the system produced a determination of either “information present” or “information absent.” One hundred percent of these determinations were correct. The discovery of the P300-MERMER allows the results gained through the P300 testing to be even more accurate. Since the inclusion of the P300-MERMER in the brainwave analysis algorithm, Brain Fingerprinting testing has made a definitive determination in every test.
- What is involved in setting up a Brain Fingerprinting test?
In a criminal case, information gathered from investigations is utilized to identify those details of the crime that a perpetrator would had to have encountered in the commission of the crime; details that the brain records and remembers. There are certain kinds of crime details that are insignificant in a usual crime scene investigation, but which become very significant in a Brain Fingerprinting test. These include things a perpetrator would remember doing or encountering in the course of committing a crime, such as knocking over a pink flamingo on the lawn, running through tall grass, what type of weapon was used, etc. Once we have gathered a significant number of memorable details, we determine which of those would be known to the general public (via press reports, etc.) and which would be known only to the police investigators and the perpetrator of the crime. From this information an actual Brian Fingerprinting test is constructed, including targets, probes, and irrelevant stimuli.
- Where can Brain Fingerprinting be applied?
It is applicable in all cases where evidence is available, delivering the highest value to law enforcement, counterintelligence, and counterterrorism agencies. FBI experts identified that Brain Fingerprinting is applicable in 85-90% of the situations.
Brain Fingerprinting can be utilized in all types of criminal cases, counterintelligence cases and counterterrorism cases. It quickly and accurately identifies if the individual in question committed the crime and who did not commit the crime. It can determine all levels of individuals involved in a terrorist organization from the foot soldier to the communicators and planners to the mastermind. It also effectively and quickly identifies if a witness is telling the truth or if an asset, source, or informant is providing accurate information to law enforcement personnel.
- In what kinds of cases does Brain Fingerprinting testing not apply?
In cases where investigation is conducted and evidence collected, Brain Fingerprinting can be applied. FBI experts attest that Brain Fingerprinting is applicable in 85 – 90% of the cases. There are several types of cases where this technology does not apply. For example, in a disappearance, all the authorities may know, is that someone disappeared. They may not know if any crime has been committed. Brain Fingerprinting would not be applicable in this case. Another situation where Brain Fingerprinting testing is not applicable is when everyone agrees on what happened, but there is disagreement as to the intent of the parties. For example, in a sexual assault case, the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator may agree exactly on what happened, but disagree on whether or not it was consensual. Brain Fingerprinting tests cannot reveal the intent of those involved in the case.
- What are the limitations?
Brain Fingerprinting has very little limitations. The only situation where a test cannot be conducted is when there is no evidence to gather to implement the test. If you have no evidence to present as stimuli to the perpetrator, then we could not use the system. Another limitation, system-wise, is if the subject does not have a functional brain at the time of the test.
- What if the person knows about the crime because he or she was a witness is not a perpetrator?
Brain Fingerprinting testing will determine if specific information is in the brain but will not tell us how it got there. It’s like finding fingerprints at the crime scene; some, but not all, tie back to the perpetrator. If specific information is available about the planning and execution of the crime that a witness would not know, Brain Fingerprinting testing may be able to distinguish between a witness and a perpetrator. In addition, it can place a person at the scene of a crime or exonerate someone who was not there.
- Is it a lie detector? / How is this different from a lie detector?
A lie detector involves questioning in which a suspect is asked a series of questions and his/her physiological/autonomic characteristics (e.g blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate) are measured to identify whether the subject under testing is telling the truth or not. Brain Fingerprinting is a cognitive, specific concealed information test, in which it identifies whether the information under test is present in the suspect’s brain or not, with over 99% statistical confidence. It doesn’t have any false negatives and false positives, with zero countermeasures.
- In a polygraph, we are able to use multiple test types according to the identified conditions. Does your proposed solution include an interview methodology?
Being a general screening tool, the polygraph heavily depends on the interview methodology, whereas a Brain Fingerprinting test only requires good investigation and delivery of test instructions. The tests are largely system-administered.
Once the test is complete the system runs analysis on EEG brainwave data collected and gives only 2 possible results “information present” or “information absent.” There is no human interpretation of results. Accuracy level in most tests is 99.9%. There are no known countermeasures to Brain Fingerprinting test. It is virtually impossible to beat this test. Brain Fingerprinting has applications in 90% of all civil and criminal investigations as per the FBI experts.
- How does Brain Fingerprinting compare to functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI), Forensic Voice Stress Analyzer (FVSA), Visual sensor, etc.?
Brain Fingerprinting technology cannot be compared to those technologies because its functions are simply different–we test whether if information present or absent in a suspect’s brain. Brain Fingerprinting has a proven accuracy rate of 99%, generated after a series of just 9 tests which can be completed in an hour’s time. No other technology has been able to reach this level of accuracy, not to mention having little to no countermeasures, no false positives, and no false negatives.
- Is Brain Fingerprinting technology based on science that is generally accepted in the scientific community?
There is widespread agreement among the experts that we can accurately and scientifically measure information-processing brain activity using electrical brain signals. When this science is applied appropriately, one can determine whether or not specific information is stored in a person’s brain. This has been well-established science for many years. “Experts” refer to legitimate scientists who have training, expertise, and experience in cognitive psychophysiology and in measuring brain waves for the detection of concealed information.
The P300 electrical brainwave response, one aspect of the larger P300-MERMER response, is widely known and accepted in the scientific community and there have been hundreds of studies conducted and articles published on it over the past thirty plus years. The P300-MERMER, a longer and more complex response than the P300, comprises a P300 response, which is electrical events occurring 300 to 800 milliseconds after the stimulus, and additional data occurring more than 800 milliseconds after the stimulus. While a P300 shows only a peak electrical response, a P300-MERMER has both a peak and a valley.
- Do all experts agree about Brain Fingerprinting technology?
There is a widespread consensus among legitimate experts that the science behind Brain Fingerprinting technology is valid. It’s been thoroughly tested, peer-reviewed, and published in the world renowned journals. The methodology is recognized for its high accuracy rates. It is generally accepted in the scientific community. Experts, like everyone else, have their own opinions regarding the non-scientific issues, like where and when this science should be applied, and how much legal weight should be given to its results in any particular application.
- Do you have a list of existing customers you can share?
The clients Brainwave Science do not entertain such requests and require complete confidentiality.
- Is the information extracted from the suspect’s Memory?
Brain Fingerprinting is not mind reading. It does not extract anything. It determines scientifically whether or not specific information is stored in a subject’s brain. Brain Fingerprinting detects a specific “Aha!” brain response known as a P300-MERMER. This brain response takes place when a person recognizes something significant in the current context.
During the Brain Fingerprinting test, various words, phrases, or pictures are presented briefly on a computer screen. Some of these are selected so as to be relevant to the crime or other investigated event and known only to the perpetrator and investigators. If the subject’s brain emits a P300-MERMER in response to these crime-relevant items, this indicates that the he knows this specific information about the crime or other investigated situation.
- What happens if the suspect has completely forgotten about the incident?
Brain Fingerprinting detects information that is stored in the brain. No technique, no matter how perfect, can detect information that is not there. Brain Fingerprinting is not an appropriate technique to detect trivial details about trivial events that are likely to be forgotten. It is a highly effective technique for detecting information about actual crimes. Even a serial killer only commits a few murders in his life. When he/she does, it is a highly significant and memorable event.
The record is stored in the brain, and Brain Fingerprinting can detect it. There are a few cases where people who have committed serious crimes such as murder claim to have forgotten all about it. There is no scientific evidence, however, that any of these claims have ever been true. Human beings remember major, significant events in their lives. A substantial crime is a significant event. In short, criminals and terrorists know who they are, and they know what they have done. That information is stored in their brains. Brain Fingerprinting has successfully detected concealed information in every real-life case (and every laboratory case) where it has been applied.
- What happens if the suspect has amnesia?
Of the over 14 million crimes committed in the United States in which an arrest was made in the last year, there are no known records of a crime being committed by a person who then developed amnesia. Genuine total (retrograde) amnesia is extremely rare. If sometime in the future a suspect is arrested who has total amnesia, this will be easy to determine. In the extremely unlikely event that such a case ever comes up, a Brain Fingerprinting test will not be administered. Brain Fingerprinting, like every other forensic science technique, is applicable in some cases and not in others.
According to FBI scientist Dr. Drew Richardson, former chief of the FBI’s chem-bio-nuclear counterterrorism unit and one of the world’s leading experts on terrorism, Brain Fingerprinting is applicable in about 85% of crimes. Of the 15% of crimes where Brain Fingerprinting is not applicable, amnesia accounts for less than 1/1,000 of 1%.
To conduct a Brain Fingerprinting test, authorities must know what they are looking for. That is, they must have some idea what took place at the time of the crime in order to detect the record of the crime in a suspect’s brain. If they have no idea what crime may have taken place, Brain Fingerprinting is not applicable. For example, if someone disappears, and foul play is suspected but there is no evidence, Brain Fingerprinting cannot be applied because there is no known crime-relevant information to test. To conduct a test there must be some information about the crime that is known to the perpetrators and investigators but not to an innocent suspect.
If a particular suspect knows absolutely everything that investigators know about a crime – for example, from previous interrogations or trials or from being a witness to the crime – then a Brain Fingerprinting test cannot be run because there is no appropriate, incriminating information to test. About 85% of cases meet the criteria for Brain Fingerprinting to be administered. This compares very favorably with other forensic science techniques. DNA and fingerprints, for example, are available in only about 1% of cases.
- Does a brain injury have an effect on results?
In ordinary circumstances, an individual with even a serious brain injury can perceive and recognize words and pictures on a computer screen and can remember past events. Thus brain injury has no effect on results Brain Fingerprinting results.
- If the suspect has committed several similar crimes, will his/her brain be able to distinguish between them while taking the test?
Brain Fingerprinting does not require the subject to distinguish between different (but similar) crimes. Brain Fingerprinting does not require the subject to distinguish between the crime being investigated and any other event. Brain Fingerprinting detects a brain response, the P300-MERMER that is elicited when the subject recognizes and processes information that is significant in a specific context.
The Brain Fingerprinting subject instructions ensure that the subject knows the specific context being investigated, namely the context of a particular crime. The crime-relevant items will elicit a P300-MERMER if, and only if, they are significant to the subject in the context of this particular crime. That is, the Brain Fingerprinting test will detect the presence or absence of a record in the subject’s brain of the specific details of this specific crime. Other similar crimes the subject may have committed are irrelevant and will not affect the outcome. Moreover, every crime has many unique features that can be included in the Brian Fingerprinting test. No two crimes are identical in every detail. Two similar crimes will never be identical in the identity and appearance of the victim, specific actions, location, items at the scene, surroundings, etc.
Many of the guilty subjects in Brain Fingerprinting tests–results that have solved crimes and/or been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals–had participated in similar crimes to the one being tested, and the Brain Fingerprinting results were correct in every case.
- Can results be accurate if a suspect has memory of a similar incident? For example, his wife was killed in similar circumstances and he was the first witness. Now another girl is killed in similar way and he is a suspect?
Brain Fingerprinting has been successful in accurately detecting concealed information in many such cases, and has never failed to do so. Every crime has many unique features that can be included in the Brian Fingerprinting test. No two crimes are identical in every detail. Two similar crimes will never be identical in the identity and appearance of the victim, specific actions, location, items at the scene, surroundings, etc.
If a suspect’s wife was murdered and he was a witness, the specific details will not be identical to the specific details of another murder of a different victim at a different time and place. Anyone can tell the difference between his wife and another victim, and many other details will also be different. Brain Fingerprinting detects the presence or absence of the specific details of a particular crime or investigated situation. Knowledge of other similar events is irrelevant and will not interfere with the test. Many of the subjects in Brain Fingerprinting tests–results that have solved crimes and/or been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals–had participated in similar crimes to the one being tested, and the Brain Fingerprinting results were correct in every case.
- The target stimuli are used to form a template for the subject’s brain response to known stimuli. What if the suspect does not know any of the target stimuli?
It makes no difference if the subject does not know any of the target stimuli before the Brain Fingerprinting procedure begins. In the course of the experimental instructions for the Brain Fingerprinting test, the subject is informed of the target stimuli and their significance in the context of the crime. The subject may or may not know the target stimuli before receiving these test instructions. By the time the actual brainwave responses to the stimuli are recorded, the standard Brain Fingerprinting procedures ensure that the subject knows the target stimuli and their significance in the context of the crime.
- Will the test work on an unconscious suspect or a suspect in coma, provided the eyes are open?
Brain Fingerprinting tests are conducted only on subjects who are conscious. Fortunately, this is not an issue in the real world. Of the 14 million crimes committed in the US last year in which an arrest was made, there are no known cases where the suspect was in a coma or unconscious for an extended period of time.
- What happens to the result if the suspect is brain dead?
One could not conduct any meaningful brain tests on a subject who is brain dead. If such a case ever occurred, Brain Fingerprinting would not be applied.
- Does age of the suspect play any factor in statistical confidence with which results are obtained?
- In a scenario where a detective is a suspect, how does Brain Fingerprinting determine presence or absence of information?
Brain Fingerprinting has been applied in cases where the suspect was a detective. In such cases, the same standard Brain Fingerprinting procedures are followed, and Brain Fingerprinting detects the presence or absence of information in the same way as any other case. It makes no difference whether the suspect is a detective or not. The detectives investigating a particular case have access to information that is known only to the perpetrator and investigators. If a detective is a suspect in a case, however, he/she would obviously not be allowed also to be investigating that same case. He would have no more access to information about that crime – other than participating in the crime – than any other suspect.
- How is a Brain Fingerprinting system purchased?
Due to the intellectual property rights, the Brain Fingerprinting system is sold on a licensing model. Please contact the Brainwave Science Sales team for further details and information through the ‘Contact Us’ form, available here.
- How much does each license cost?
Brain Fingerprinting tests are competitively priced. A Brain Fingerprinting test costs approximately close to a standard polygraph test.
- What are the various technical specifications of the Brain Fingerprinting apparatus?
Brain Fingerprinting only requires 4 pieces: the laptop that contains the proprietary software, a subject monitor in which the stimulus will be displayed to the suspect, a wireless gold-plated EEG-sensor headset that will measure safely and noninvasively brainwaves, and a handheld controller which the suspect will use during the test to stay focused. Brain Fingerprinting equipment is continually updated with the newest models. The Brain Fingerprinting system is user-friendly, portable, and lightweight. Everything fits in a Pelican case, similar in size as an average carry-on luggage.
- How does one become Brain Fingerprinting-certified?
Because the software is designed in such a way that it is particularly user-friendly, anyone from an average investigator to a PhD forensic scientist can be trained within the span of two days to a week’s time. The training package can be customized according to the client’s interests and needs.
- What does the training package entail?
Depending on clients’ needs, the Brainwave team has various levels of traveling availability. The traveling team at Brainwave Science will provide on-site training for those who wish to be Brain Fingerprinting-certified. The two head trainees will also hold standard evaluations after the training session prior to certification.
Training sessions are generally conducted in English, however, translators may assist in sessions where the client wishes to have a more in-depth understanding of particular sections. Please contact the Brainwave Science Sales team to know more about further details regarding training and Brain Fingerprinting certification.
- How is the license scheme for the software managed? Is this done in the software? At what point is one use determined by the system?
The license scheme for the software is managed inside the software. When one purchases a license, the number of tests are already encrypted in the system. When one test is successfully completed and saved by the examiner, the system automatically deducts one instance/time frame from the number of tests allowed under the license.
- If the customer wants to make a backup of the software in case of computer issues, is this possible?
The external back up system will be provided with the laptop. Whenever the user tries to exit the application the latest back up will be stored. We advise you to keep the external back up system connected to the system at all times to save the latest data.
- How does Brain Fingerprinting work with standard protocols?
Standard protocols ensure that the suspect is given the right to reveal any circumstances through which he or she might have had legitimate access to the crime-relevant information. A suspect is tested only on information for which he or she has no legitimate means of knowing. As a result, Brain Fingerprinting determines with an extremely high degree of accuracy those who are involved with terrorist activity and those who are not.
Memory and Recognition
Licensing, Certification, and Training