The most fascinating areas of science for me had always been those striving to understand the complexity of the human brain, for this reason I take much interest in psychology and neurology. While reading Wichale W. Passer’s “Psychology: Frontiers and Applications” I discovered an article discussing Dr. Larry Farwell, former member of the Harvard Medical School, who had developed a new technique for determining guilt or innocence. This method was called “Brain Fingerprinting”, involving the monitoring of brain waves to determine whether or not a suspect has details of crime or other information stored in the brain. Suspects are shown words or images that would be accessible only to someone who was actually at the scene of the crime. By monitoring brain waves, the investigator can determine whether or not the suspect recognizes the images. Dr. Farwell’s testimony was instrumental to showing Terry Harrington’s innocence, a man wrongly convicted of murder and serving a life sentence. Brain Fingerprinting revealed that the information in Harrington’s brain did not match the details of the crime but in fact consistent with his alibi. Cases such as this show the impact science and technology can have on the world today, not only in fields of health care but even in the justice system. Unlike polygraph examinations, Brain Fingerprinting has been ruled admissible in U.S courts(1).
1. Passer, M. (2003). Psychology: Frontiers and Applications. Toronto: Graw-Hill Ryerson Ltd. p. 323.