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Brain Scans As Lie Detectors

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For the time being, it seems that what’s bad for the scalp may also be bad for the coronary arteries. Experts say a functional MRI is more accurate than a polygraph. More research needs to be done before judges will allow the tests to be used as evidence. Searching for the thing is the very definition of what happens in criminal court. Forensic science has long assisted in that quest. However, other scientific ols polygraphs, brain scans, and functional magnetic resonance imaging remain largely inadmissible as evidence of guilt or innocence. Whenever using strict protocols that yield reproducible results, me medical experts think that could change if larger trials are conducted outside the laboratory in real world conditions. Dr. Daniel Langleben is the leading researchers in the field of lie detection.

Then again, he is associate professor of psychiatry in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvaniand a staff physician for the Philadelphia Veterans Administration Medical Center. I want to ask you a question. Does Langleben see a future use for fMRI in court cases?

What stands between this being an educated answer with data behind it, and an educated guess, is we need to have ‘larger scale’ trials that test realworld situations under controlled conditions.

Until this happens, my answer my be a guess. At the moment, he continued, we have the polygraph, that does have an amount of accuracy significantly above chance. Loads of us know that there are some individuals who will say that the polygraph is 100 percent accurate. Actually the literature as a whole, including the report by the National Academy of Sciences, points to a number in the 75 percent range. While meaning clinical applications, the polygraph is already pretty good but not good enough there’s a way forward, if the fMRI could improve on that. FMRI was at the center of a high profile murder case in Maryland. Anyway, smith’s attorney hoped that his client’s fMRI should prove he was telling the truth.

Judge presiding in the case said he found the fMRI fascinating but refused to admit it as evidence.

Langleben and Jonathan Hakun, PhD, an assistant teaching professor in psychology at Penn State, published a paper in 2016 Polygraphy and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Lie Detection.

Controlled Blind Comparison Using the Concealed Information Test in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. We showed a 12 to 17 percent difference between polygraph and fMRI, in favor of fMRI, Langleben said. Now look. Therefore a fMRI could’ve been used for lie detection and it gonna be better than polygraph. It would not answer one key question. Will it ever be good enough for legal implications? As long as there we require a completely different degree of accuracy. Then the polygraph, introduced more than 50 years ago, monitors a person’s electrical skin conductivity, heart rate, and respiration during a series of questions. Let me tell you something. Assumption is that upward or downward spikes in those measurements indicate that the person is lying. They was used for nearly 30 years in the business world as a device for pre employment screenings, while polygraph results was judged to be inadmissible as legal evidence in most jurisdictions.

Polygraphs are also used widely in government background checks and security clearances.

While fMRI is looking at thousands of brain clusters with higher resolution in both space and time, polygraph measures reflect complex activity of the peripheral nervous system that is reduced to only a few parameters, Langleben said.

We expected brain activity to be a more specific marker, and so it’s what I believe we found, while neither activity type is unique to lying. Of course some legal experts remain skeptical about brain scans as a ‘lie detection’ tool. You should take it into account. Henry Greely, JD, a professor of law at Stanford University in Californiand director of the Stanford Center for Law and the Biosciences, said any single study needs to be viewed skeptically, I actually would feel way better about it, in part being that it should have involved more than only 28 people, he ld Healthline, if five different teams replicated the Langleben study. You should take it into account. Even therefore, lies ld by people who know they are research subjects, and are following instructions to lie, may look very different from lies in real lifetime.

That’s a very hard problem to solve, Greely added.

We can’t go around arresting people to make them take a fMRI test to test ‘real’ lying.

In any event, ‘significantly better’ than the polygraph ain’t very good. In almost each court, I know it’s not good enough to be admitted, and most experts think it shouldn’t be used as often as Undoubtedly it’s outside of court. That’s the most important bottom line. Actually, greely said judges in all the cases where the evidence had been presented have rejected fMRI after hearing expert witnesses since its results aren’t definitely is sufficiently accurate and the tests did not follow any wellestablished protocols. Notice, he said, the evidence should eat up By the way, a radiologist agrees with Langleben on the need for advanced testing of fMRI, outside of the laboratory.

Dr.Pratik Mukherjee is a professor of radiology and bioengineering at the University of California, San Francisco and director of the Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Diseases at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Testing could possibly be conducted in ‘real life’ legal cases but should have to be done under strict scientifically rigorous conditions, he ld Healthline. Of course the admissibility my be questionable until the testing is fully validated, since this would constitute research. So it is similar to the ethical barriers to using the results of research studies for clinical practice in medicine.

Mukherjee said certain standards must be met before the doubts and objections to the admissibility of fMRI in court cases can be overcome.


It must have acceptably low rates of false positives and false negatives. Reliability. It must have acceptably low rates of failure. Generalization. Ok, and now one of the most important parts. Does it work in people of all ages and IQ levels, those with mental illness, those under the influence of psychoactive substances, and those with prior head injury, stroke, dementia, and so on? That is interesting. Robustness to countermeasures. Simply moving your head slightly in the course of the scan is enough to degrade any fMRI. Better brain imaging methods are needed, and a lot more scientifically rigorous testing, including under realworld conditions, Mukherjee said.

Even much of the current scientific literature using fMRI for academic neuroscience research is suffering from a failure of reproducibility. By the way, the emphasis now is on improving fMRI methodology to produce more reliable and reproducible results. How will Langleben test fMRI outside of the laboratory? Very similar to the way they use polygraph in Japan, he said. Someone with appropriate expertise will study the case and assemble a ‘forced choice’ questionnaire with questions that have clear yes/no answers that maximize the difference between a likely perpetrator and the person being tested. Results of the analyzed data will have a quantitative estimate of the effect size the strength of the difference between lie and truth, he said. Why are courts reluctant? Now pay attention please. Langleben said he knows why courts continue to resist the admissibility of fMRIs. Legitimate concerns about lack of data on the ‘error rates’ of this approach under ‘real life’ circumstances, he said, unfounded fears of being supplanted or even replaced by the new technology, and irrational fears of having one’s mind looked into. Write were grandfathered in without any proof that they worked, and presently could not pass the Frye or Daubert tests for admission to the court system for use, he added.

It’s an interesting fact that the United States sends people to death row with eyewitness reports, that have been shown to be 65 percent accurate when they are done the in the traditional way, Huizenga noted.

Which is a brand new methodology, the accuracy goes up to 75 percent, he said, if you give the images one by one and tell the person that the perpetrator is mostly about accuracy is ridiculous. Since science takes power away from the workers in the legal field to do more of what they seek for to do, So it’s about power, and And so it’s definitely anti science usually. Currently, there’s a power struggle between science and law. Eventually, law is winning big, at the expense of our population, he added. Greely notes that DNA evidence for identification is a lot more scientifically easy process. It ok two reports by the National Academy of Sciences and a FBI program to create protocols for its use, he said, and to accredit crime labs to do that testing before it was widely accepted.

I’d say if ‘fMRIbased’ lie detection is ever very useable and I put the odds at about 50/50 in the next 10 to 20 years similar things will have to happen. Andrew Jezic, the Maryland criminal defense attorney for Gary Smith, introduced his client’s fMRI at his second trial in The judge did not admit it. Smith was found guilty twice and his conviction was overturned twice, Jezic said. With that said, smith recently made a Alford plea. It was not an admission of guilt, Smith ld Healthline. That’s right! I maintain my innocence, I’m almost sure I pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment. I had lost nearly a decade of my life six years in prison and three house years arrest. By the way, the Alford plea gave me time. Fact, Smith will have to wait 18 to 24 months before getting that hearing, the next step in the Alford plea process should be a reconsideration hearing in front of a judge. Smith is now finishing college, works as Jezic’s law clerk, and plans to attend law school.

Jezic calls fMRI a fabulous tool.

The fact that someone is willing to submit to That’s a fact, it’s a factor in and of itself, he ld Healthline.

It requires courage to submit to a fMRI when you are ld ahead of time that so it’s not something you can fake, and ain’t something you can read about on the internet to if somebody’s willing to do this and goes through with it. Certainly, is interesting for all parties involved, for awhile way from being admissible.

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