What is Brain Fingerprinting?

Brain Electrical Oscillation Signature Profiling (BEOSP) is a method of interrogation where the suspect’s participation in the crime is investigated by studying the brain’s response.
Created On: Dec 2, 2020 20:38 IST
Modified On: Dec 2, 2020 21:07 IST
Brain Fingerprinting
Brain Fingerprinting

Brain fingerprinting, also known as Brain Electrical Oscillation Signature Profiling (BEOSP) is a neuro-psychological method of interrogation in which the suspect’s participation in the crime is investigated by studying the brain’s response. 

Process of Brain Fingerprinting

The BEOSP test uses electroencephalography (EEG) to study the electrical behaviour of the human brain. The suspect is seated in a comfortable chair in a soundproof room with a cap having dozens of electrodes attached to it. The other ends of the electrodes are connected to an electroencephalographic (EEG) machine.

The suspect is then shown visuals or audio clips related to the case to check if there is any triggering of neurons (P300-MERMER) in the suspect's brain which then generate brainwaves. The test results are then studied to determine the participation of the accused in a crime. 

What is P300?

The P300 is a component of the event-related brain potential (ERP). It means that the response is electrically positive (P) and has a latency of at least 300 ms (300). 


Dr. Lawrence Farwell discovered that P300 can be considered to be part of a larger response he called P300-MERMER. P300-MERMER is a memory and encoding related multifaceted electroencephalographic response.

Efficacy of Brain Mapping

The test is based on two phenomenons: Knowledge and Experience. 

Knowledge: The suspect's brain might have knowledge about the crime committed and the alibi they have come up with.

Experience: The suspect's experience of having participated in the crime determines the guilt.

BEOSP Test: Consent of suspect

Before performing this test, the consent of the suspect is taken. 

The legitimacy of Brain Fingerprinting

Yes, brain mapping is a legitimate neuro-psychological method of interrogation. It is to be noted that the test results alone cannot be admitted as evidence. However, any information or material discovered during the tests can be made part of the evidence, as per an SC judgement in 2010 Selvi versus State of Karnataka case. 

Brain Fingerprinting: Conviction of suspect

The suspect cannot be convicted solely on the BEOSP test. The conviction can only be done based on interrogation and other traditional legal practices of CBI.

When brain fingerprinting was first used?

In the year 1999, a woodcutter named James Grinder confessed murdering a woman named Julie Helton. Helton died 15 years prior to Grinder's confession. Shortly afterwards, the man retracted his statements, contradicting himself time and time again.

The police were struggling to device a strong case against Grinder as the pieces of evidence were decades old. Thus, the Sheriff called Dr. Lawrence Farwell who discovered a new way to determinate the guilt or innocence of a suspect by measuring the brain activity. 


During this test, short phrases were viewed by Grinder flashed on a computer screen. Some of these phrases were related to the crime that would be known only to the perpetrator. 

The computer analysis of the test found that these details of the crime were recorded in his brain as 'information present'. Following the test, he faced a probable death sentence. Consequently, he pled guilty to the rape and murder of Julie Helton in exchange for a life sentence without parole and also confessed to the murders of three other young women.

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