INDIA’S FIRST laboratory for the research and development of brain forensics is to be set up in Bangalore, with the central government approving the plan for the Centre of Brain Science for Forensics.
This laboratory will be India’s first step towards developing tools for preventive forensics — the science of preventing crimes by reading the mind. Globally, preventive forensics is the buzzword for internal security experts.
Since 2000, the development of brain fingerprinting has made it possible for sleuths to extract information from a suspect’s mind, even if the suspect gives it involuntarily. The high success rate of this non-invasive process has emboldened researchers to develop gadgets for mass civilian profiling at public places.
“In the past five years, there has been a lot of advancement in brain mapping,” Dr D. Mohan, the Bangalore forensic laboratory director, told HT. “Terrorist strikes can be averted with brain fingerprinting. The brain centre will help develop better technologies.”
Patented in 2001 by Harvard research scholar Lawrence Farwell, brain fingerprinting checks whether or not certain knowledge is in a suspect's brain. By flashing stimuli — a series of pictures, phrases or words — on a screen, and analysing the responses of a suspect’s brain, a forensic expert can determine whether the suspect is familiar with data ranging from a telephone number to a secret code.
From 300 to 800 milliseconds after the stimulus, the brain triggers an electrical response. “These ‘p300 bumps’ give a suspect away,” said Dr S. Malini, assistant director at Bangalore’s FSL.