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Brain Waves Reveal Terrorists' Guilty Knowledge

a woman with brain-scanning electrodes at northwestern university
In a recent study at Northwestern University, researchers used electrodes to examine the brain activity of 29 "fake" terrorists. As FOX reports, each student was given a fake terrorist plan of attack on a given U.S. city, and about 30 minutes to educate themselves. They were also asked to flesh out the attacks in greater detail, based on information concerning weapons and methods. The researchers, in the first stage of the study, were fully aware of the mock terrorist plots, and monitored the brain activity of the students during interviews. Whenever a subject revealed details as to where and when the attack was to take place, researchers noticed a unique pattern in his or her 'P300' brain wave activity. They were then able to associate these patterns with a student's "guilty knowledge" of the attack, with 100-percent accuracy across all 29 subjects.

To test the pattern, they re-ran the experiment -- but without being privy to the mock plots. "Without any prior knowledge of the planned crime in our mock terrorism scenarios, we were able to identify 10 out of 12 terrorists, and, among them, 20 out of 30 crime-related details," said psychology professor J. Peter Rosenfeld. "The test was 83-percent accurate in predicting concealed knowledge, suggesting that our complex protocol could identify future terrorist activity."

In theory, then, Homeland Security officials may one day be able to determine if a suspect has "guilty knowledge" of a terrorist plot, regardless of whether or not the investigators are aware of the attack. It's impressive that psychologists were able to glean a pattern out of 29 student brains, but isn't it possible that those patterns could vary across age groups, or under unique circumstances? And couldn't those waves change form, depending on how much "guilty knowledge" a person has? The approach is definitely intriguing, but it seems as if it might need some more fine-tuning before anyone uses it to defuse attacks. [From: FOX News]

Tags: brain, BrainWaves, guilt, guilty, GuiltyKnowledge, psychology, science, terrorism, TerroristAttacks, terrorists, top