Brain Waves May Aid in Criminal Investigations - October, 2014

A recent study published in Psychological Science suggests that P300 brain-waves are larger when a person recognizes a “meaningful item.” The study sought to simulate a real criminal investigation, and it used 24 college students who wore cameras and recorded four hours of their daily activities. From the recorded data, researchers gave the participants a Concealed Information Test (“CIT”) to determine if the participants recognized relevant information.  One-half of the students were given information gleaned from their recorded activities, along with other, non-relevant information, and the other one-half of the participants were given only non-relevant details, or information which they had not experienced.

When later shown words describing details or items, those participants who had actually seen or encountered the relevant information had larger P300 waves.  The researchers concluded that the P300 was a reliable marker of recognition.

CIT is used in criminal investigations in Japan and Israel, but has not been determined reliable for U.S. courts.

Source:  “Brain wave may be used to detect what people have seen, recognize,”, September 23, 2014:  Related:  Criminal Defense Newsletter, Vol. 35, Number 12, September, 2012, p. 13

by Neil Leithauser
Associate Editor