Investigative Techniques:

Federal Agency Views on the Potential Application of 'Brain Fingerprinting'

GAO-02-22: Published: Oct 31, 2001. Publicly Released: Nov 30, 2001.

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Paul L. Jones
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Federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies are seeking to add new techniques to their arsenal of investigative tools. "Brain fingerprinting" measures brain wave responses to determine whether an individual recognizes certain details of an event or activity. Because the technique requires specific information about the event that would be known only to the perpetrator and the investigator, Brain Fingerprinting is not designed as a screening tool--a function that involves questioning a subject about events unknown to the investigator. Instead, an investigator would be able to use certain information as evidence for or against a subject. For example, the technique could be used to determine whether a subject has knowledge of details about a crime. Officials representing the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, the Secret Service, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation do not forsee using the brain fingerprinting technique because of its limited use. Furthermore, given the technique's limitations, the research expenses, equipment, and training costs are perceived to exceed benefits.

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