Is the US already using brain scan lie detection?

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to try and find out whether the US goverment is using brain scan lie detection technology on suspected terrorists.

The most likely technology to be used for anti-terrorism purposes is Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), which can produce live, real-time images of people’s brains as they answer questions, view images, listen to sounds, and respond to other stimuli. Two private companies have announced that they will begin to offer “lie detection” services using fMRI as early as this summer. These companies are marketing their services to federal government agencies, including the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, the National Security Agency and the CIA, and to state and local police departments.

While fMRI is certainly a hot-topic at the moment, EEG-based lie detection technology based on the same principle has been around for almost two decades now, and has the advantage of being more portable and considerably cheaper.

It’s interesting that it’s still not clear (publically at least) whether fMRI has any advantages over the existing EEG method, so it will be interesting to see if anything comes out of these enquiries.

Link to ACLU press release (via /.)
Link to actual Freedom of Information Act request.

One Comment

  1. Posted June 29, 2006 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    I do wonder about contamination in this kind of technique, though. If this gets used on you after the police have been busy questioning you about the same thing, what are the odds that you’ll trigger that brainwave on ‘recognition’ of what the police have already said or shown?


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