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An Iowa firm called Brain Fingerprinting Laboratories, Inc., is positioning its EEG-based brain-state analysis system as a potential tool in the fight against terrorism. The device, consisting of a headband sensor, EEG amplifier, and computer-based signal processor, attempts to detect whether a subject or suspect has had prior association with specific words, images, or other stimuli.
In a test conducted with the FBI, the system was able to accurately identify FBI agents based on their brain wave responses when presented with relevant terms compared to irrelevant stimuli. In a similar manner, Farwell says the system could help intelligence agencies differentiate an innocent Afghani student from a member of a terrorist cell.
The brain fingerprinting system works by presenting to a subject relevant words, phrases, or pictures that would only be known by a perpetrator of an act. The subject wears a headband with sensors that measure the EEG from several locations on the scalp. Farwell has defined a response known as a MERMER, memory and encoding related multifaceted electroencephalographic response, which is derived from the EEG data at different sites. The main component of a MERMER is the P300 wave, an evoked response that has been well studied in the scientific literature as a potential indicator of recognition. The MERMER response is not present in subjects who lack specific knowledge about the word, phrase, or picture presented.