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Getting inside the mind of a terrorist to prevent attacks

By

August 20, 2010

P300 brain wave reading technology could possibly prevent terrorist attacks, such as the s...

P300 brain wave reading technology could possibly prevent terrorist attacks, such as the strike on New York's World Trade Center

Recently, 29 students from Northwestern University in Illinois planned a terrorist attack. Researchers from the university were subsequently able to learn details of the attack, even though the students never admitted to anything. How was this possible? Well, essentially, the researchers read the students’ minds. More specifically, they monitored their P300 brain waves – brief electrical patterns in the cortex, which occur when meaningful information is presented to someone with “guilty knowledge.” In this case, it was a mock planned attack, but the research team believe their process could be used to prevent the real thing.

The study involved attaching electrodes to the students’ scalps, then presenting them with a number of stimuli on a computer monitor. Those stimuli included the names of cities such as Boston, Houston, New York, Chicago and Phoenix, shuffled and presented at random. In almost every case, the name of the location of the planned attack evoked the largest P300 responses.

"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 J. Peter Rosenfeld, professor of psychology in Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. "The test was 83 percent accurate in predicting concealed knowledge, suggesting that our complex protocol could identify future terrorist activity."

Given that the students only had 30 minutes to hatch their dastardly plan, it is assumed that real terrorists, who would put much more time and effort into their plan, would give even stronger responses.

Of course, using technology to discern what people are thinking is nothing new. Besides the highly-controversial polygraph, people have experimented with lie detectors that read facial gestures, glasses that indicate lies through voice stress analysis, and voice stress reading devices for screening passengers at airports. Even P300 waves have been studied since the 1980s, although current technology has made them a more viable option.

"Since 9/11 preventing terrorism is a priority," Rosenfeld said. "Sometimes you catch suspicious people entering a building. You suspect that they're terrorists, and you have some leads from the chatter. You've heard they're going to attack one city or another in one fashion or another on one date or another. Our hope is that our new complex protocol – different from the first P300 technology developed in the 1980s – will one day confirm such chatter in the real world." 

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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7 Comments

And this is from a nation that spends 55c in the tax dollar on warfare, and 5c in the dollar on public health.

This is from a nation that has to debate whether creationism should be taught in schools.

This is from a nation that has tax payer funded wars of aggression to topple elected governments in other countries, so they can steal their oil, their minerals and enslave the people.

This is from a nation that has religious nutters who dictate the aid policies towards other countries to prohibit condoms to stop the spread of aids.

This is from a country who has the CIA etc., playing each side off against each other, and then taking the spoils.

Millions of people have died as a result of the USA's wars of aggression against the people of the world.

Perhaps these smarmy American students ought to start looking at WHY the people of the world do no like the USA and it's evil foreign policies.

Joke - Man to American: "They have the same flag as your's - except theirs is on fire."

The American Banks dictate to the Military - where to go and who to kill, so they can harvest the profits.

http://www.lexrex.com/enlightened/articles/warisaracket.htm

Mr Stiffy
22nd August, 2010 @ 06:19 pm PDT

Do you know.....I quite like America and Americans.

Terotech
23rd August, 2010 @ 09:11 am PDT

Ummm, very interesting! One can only conclude that they should subject some of the senior politicians from the former administration to their process. In fact, why stop there? I'd be inclined to screen anybody and everybody who enters public service, particularly the so-called alphabet agencies, and all prospective executives in banking and the military/industrial complex. While we're about it, let's stick some senior religious figures on the list too. Right! When do we start?

Mike Hallett
23rd August, 2010 @ 11:31 am PDT

Ah, another great idea, probably from the same people who think it's ok to let security guards use x-ray vision to look at you naked to make sure you're not a terrorist, now you'll have to get a brain scan too. Marvellous... another freedom they want to remove. You know I can live with a little danger... I'd rather take a little risk than submit to my own brain being probed for suspicious thoughts.

PeetEngineer
23rd August, 2010 @ 03:54 pm PDT

Mike, you beat me to it. :-)

Aloysius
23rd August, 2010 @ 06:26 pm PDT

I third the motion Mike and Aloysius d;-)

Jetwax
23rd August, 2010 @ 11:53 pm PDT

The last administration is a funny one. What about this the current one? Is our sitting prez even a US citizen? Why would he file papers with he UN on Arizona's new law? You think Bush was bad? Have you met Obama? Who does he work for, it ain't "we the people".

Even so, all this will ultimately give the US government, maybe the entire world government, the ability to police your thoughts. Was George Orwell ever correct about our future or what?

No more tapping your phone, cell phone or computer, they will just tap your mind. No one should have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their own mind, correct?

ecold727
1st September, 2010 @ 05:34 am PDT
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