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Every science involves skill, judgment, or "art" on the part of its practitioners
and the science of Brain Fingerprinting testing is no exception. Every forensic
science provides scientific data and scientific conclusions for the use of non-scientist
judges and juries, who evaluate these on a common-sense and legal basis (i.e., a basis
outside the realm of science) in reaching their conclusions regarding the facts and the
law of the case.

Investigators' need for accurate, scientific means of linking perpetrators with

crime scene evidence has inspired some scientists to ask, "What does the criminal
always take with him from the crime scene that records his involvement in the
crime?" The answer to this question, of course, is the Brain. The purpose of this
document is to delineate the boundaries of the science of Brain Fingerprinting, and
specify what falls inside and outside those boundaries.

Index terms: - forensic science, multifaceted electroencephalographic response

analysis, memory and encoding related multifaceted electroencephalographic
response, criminal investigation, brain waves.


Forensic science is constantly evolving, from the discovery of the uniqueness

of the human fingerprint, to the ability to match a criminal to his crime through DNA
profiling; technology continues to provide investigators with new weapons. But
fingerprint and DNA evidence are discovered in the only one percent of all cases.
When trusted techniques fail, investigators must turn to cutting-edge technology to
bring invisible clues to light.

Every criminal leaves evidence behind. The key is to know how to find it. A
new technique is testing a way of tapping the suspect’s mind, to turn the criminal's
own memory against him.

Dr. Lawrence Farwell is the Chairman and Chief Scientist at Brain

Fingerprinting Laboratories in Seattle, Washington. He has developed a new
computerized system known as brain fingerprinting. It reads the memory centers of
the human brain. He believes that Brain Fingerprinting will one day be used to
positively link perpetrators to their crimes.
Brain Fingerprinting may seem similar to Polygraph (usually called a Lie
Detector), but it differs in important ways. A polygraph measures physiologic
responses such as heart rate, sweating, breathing, and other processes that are only
indirectly related to brain function. Brain Fingerprinting information comes directly
from brain function. It and other related tests do not measure truthfulness but seek to
determine whether the subject has a particular memory.


When someone commits a crime, his brain records (i.e.) it has a memory.

Brain Fingerprinting seeks to reveal that memory, by showing the suspect

evidence taken from the crime scene. A head band with sensors is placed on the
subject.A series of pictures or words is flashed on the screen. The computer records

the brain waves produced in response to what the subject sees.The responses are
recorded as a wave form.

By analyzing the pattern of waves, Farwell can determine if the subject is

recognizing what he is seeing. So when you have a situation where a crime has been
committed, and there are certain details only the suspect with know, then we can test:
does this brain have these details stored in it? If so, then the suspect committed the
crime. If not, then not.


Brain Fingerprinting detects information stored in the human brain. Sensors on a
headband, register the subject's EEG, or brain wave responses to the computer
images. The EEG is fed through an amplifier and into a computer that uses
proprietary software to display and interpret the brain waves. A specific, electrical
brain wave response, known as a P300, is emitted by the brain within a fraction of a
second when an individual recognizes and processes an incoming stimulus that is
significant or noteworthy. When an irrelevant stimulus is seen, it is seen as being
insignificant and not noteworthy and a P300 is not emitted.

In his research on the P300 response, Dr. Farwell discovered that the P300
was one aspect of a larger brain-wave response that he named a MERMER (memory
and encoding related multifaceted electroencephalo-graphic response). MERMER
comprises a P300 response, occurring 300 to 800 ms after the stimulus, and additional
patterns occurring more than 800 ms after the stimulus, providing even more accurate

Using multifaceted electroencephalographic response analysis (MERA),
shows that a specific multifaceted electroencephalographic response (MER), known
as a memory and encoding related multifaceted electroencephalographic response
(MERMER), is elicited when a person recognizes and processes a stimulus that is
particularly noteworthy to him/her.

The MERMER includes: the P300, an electrically positive component maximal at the
parietal scalp site, longer latency, electrically negative subcomponent prominent at the
frontal scalp site, and Phasic changes in the frequency and structure of the signal.
Computer Controlled

Information not present Information present

The entire Brain Fingerprinting system is under computer control, including
presentation of the stimuli, recording of electrical brain activity, a mathematical data
analysis algorithm that compares the responses to the three types of stimuli (Target,
Irrelevant, Probe), and produces a determination of "information present" or
"information absent," and a statistical confidence level for this determination.

Three types of stimuli are presented: Targets, Irrelevant, and Probes. The
Targets are made relevant and noteworthy to all subjects, i.e., the subject is given a
list of the Target stimuli and instructed to press a particular button in response to
Targets and another button in response to all other stimuli. Since the relatively rare
Targets are singled out in the task being performed, the Targets are noteworthy for the
subject, and each Target stimulus elicits a MERMER. Most of the non-Target stimuli
are irrelevant, having no relation to the situation under investigation. This Irrelevant
do not elicit a MERMER.
Some of the non-Target stimuli are relevant to the situation under
investigation. These relevant stimuli are referred to as Probes. For a subject who has
participated in the situation in question, the Probes are noteworthy due to the subject's

knowledge of that situation, and, therefore, Probes elicit a MERMER when the
subject is knowledgeable. Probes are indistinguishable from the Irrelevant for a
subject who is not knowledgeable about the situation under investigation, and thus
Probes do not elicit a MERMER if the subject is not knowledgeable.
Scalp recording was done with disposable EEG
electrodes, similar to those used in standard EEG recording. The electrodes were
embedded in a special headband designed and constructed by Dr. Farwell's Human
Brain Research Laboratory.

1 Harrington’s Case
In April 2000, Dr. Lawrence Farwell conducted a Brain Fingerprinting test on
Harrington. Brain responses showed conclusively that the record stored in
Harrington’s brain did not match the crime scene and did match his alibi, according to
Dr. Farwell. The Brain Fingerprinting test results were the first new evidence
supporting Harrington’s claim of innocence in over 2
2 Dr. Richardson’s Comment
Drew Richardson, PhD a senior agent of the FBI and a scientist in the FBI
Laboratories for 26 years says "I was assigned to collaborate with Dr. Farwell in the
research, design and laboratory testing of a research study on Brain Fingerprinting
technology. In our study, indeed in all the studies to date, Brain Fingerprinting testing
has proved to be 100% accurate, wherever a determination can be made. I estimate
that up to 70% of major crimes would someday be appropriate for applying Brain
Fingerprinting technology.
[1] Helps to Catch a Serial Killer
Macon County, Missouri Sheriff Robert Daws on engaged Dr. Farwell to conduct a
Brain fingerprinting test on J. B. Grinder, who had been a suspect in an unsolved
murder case for 15 years. The test results showed that the record stored in his brain
matched critical details of the crime scene that only the perpetrator would know.
Faced with an almost certain conviction and a probable death sentence, Grinder pled
guilty in exchange for life in prison without the possibility parole. He then also
confessed to the previously unsolved murders of three other women.

[2 ]National Security Applications
In a terrorist act, evidence such as fingerprints or DNA may not be available, but the
brain of the perpetrator is always there — planning, executing, and recording the
crime. There are memories of the crime stored in the brain of the perpetrator and in
the brains of those who helped plan the crime. Brain Fingerprinting Laboratories
technology can detect these records stored in the brain and help identify trained
terrorists before they strike, including those that are in long-term “sleeper” cells. The
technology will also be used to improve security in areas like VISA applications and
the protection of classified information
Brain fingerprinting can be used to identify persons suffering from Alzheimers
disease where a person suffers from loss of memory.
Limitations of Brainfingerprinting:
[1] Brain fingerprinting detects information-processing brain responses that reveal
what information is stored in the subject’s brain. It does not detect how that
information got there.
[2] If, however, the suspect knows everything that the investigators know about the
crime for some legitimate reason, then the test cannot be applied.

[3] Another situation where brain fingerprinting is not applicable is one where the
authorities have no information about what crime may have taken place. For example,
an individual may disappear under circumstances where a specific suspect had a
strong motive to murder the individual.

There are many different ways to present MERMER brain response data
visually. Different methods illustrate different features of the data. No one method
can adequately capture all of the information incorporated in the data in a visually
recognizable form. One method that is often effective in providing a visual
representation of the differences in brain responses involves plotting average
responses to Probe, Target, and Irrelevant stimuli as voltage over time at a specific
scalp location.

Figures 1 and 2 present the average brain responses to Probe, Target, and
Irrelevant stimuli for two of the subjects. Figure 1 presents data for a subject who is
knowledgeable regarding the investigated event. Figure 2 presents data for a subject
who is not knowledgeable regarding the investigated event.
These figures present plots of voltage over time at the parietal (Pz) scalp
location. In these figures, the MERMER appears as a positive voltage peak at
approximately 500 msec followed by a negative voltage deflection maximal at
approximately 1200 - 1500 msec. (The latency of these deflections varies according
to the speed of the individual subjects' brain processing.)

The brain responses of two subjects whose data are presented here are typical
of their respective groups, knowledgeable and not knowledgeable. As can be clearly
seen in the figures, for the knowledgeable subjects (Figure 1) the MERMER is
elicited in response to both Targets and Probes. For the subjects who were not
knowledgeable (Figure 2), the MERMER is elicited only in response to Targets.

(Figure1) Information Present Brain Response

(Figure 2) Information Absent Brain Response


The 100-percent accuracy and high confidence level of the results, however, provide
further support for results from previous research using brain MERMER testing.
Today’s sophisticated crime scene analysis techniques can sometimes place
the perpetrator at the scene of the crime; however, physical evidence is not always
present. Knowledge of numerous details of the crime, such as the murder weapon, the
specific position of the body, the amount of money stolen -- any information not
available to the public -- may reveal that a particular individual is associated with the
Additionally, if research determines that brain MERMER testing is reliable
enough that it could be introduced as evidence in court; it may be the criminal
investigative tool of the future.


[1] Farwell LA, Donchin E. The brain detector: P300 in the detection of
deception. Psychophysiology 1986; 24:434

[2] Farwell LA, inventor. Method and apparatus for multifaceted

electroencephalographic response analysis (MERA). US patent 5,363,858. 1994
Nov 15

[3] Farwell LA, inventor. Method and apparatus for truth detection. US patent
5,406,956. 1995 Apr 18

[4]Harrington v. State, Case No. PCCV 073247. Iowa District Court for
Pottawattamie County, March 5, 2001.