In Pune, India this summer a judge relied on evidence from a brain scan to convict a woman, Aditi Sharma, of murder. Sharma insists she is innocent.
The controversial machine is named the Brain Electrical Oscillations Signature test or BEOS. It was developed by Champadi Mukundan, the former Chief of Clinical Psychology at Bangalore’s National Institute of Mental Health.
BEOS is based on preliminary observations by several American scientists including J. Peter Rosenfeld, a psychologist at Northwestern, yet Rosenfeld was quick to denounce the verdict. “Technologies which are neither seriously peer-reviewed nor independently replicated are not…credible,” he said. “The fact that an advanced, sophisticated democratic society…would …convict persons based on unproven technology is…incredible.”
Apparently, BEOS software interprets patterns derived from a conventional electroencephalogram (EEG) recorded while the suspect listens to details of the crime she supposedly committed. Mukundan asserts that certain areas of the brain respond when experiences are relived, and that BEOS can differentiate between memories of witnessed events and memories of deeds they committed.
Ms. Sharma actually agreed to take the BEOS test. It is thought that people do this in order to avoid nasty police interrogations.
It can’t happen here though, right? Also this summer, a National Research Council committee predicted that pending additional research, brain scans will soon help with “the acquisition of intelligence from captured unlawful combatants…(and)…the screening of terrorism suspects at checkpoints.”