One of the most challenging tasks for a forensic expert is determining if a person is telling the truth. Over the years, all sorts of testing methods have been introduced – some eventually disregarded while others have become mainstays in Forensic Science.
In the past several years, however, new techniques have been brought forth, many promising to revolutionise the way in which we determine if a person is honest or telling a lie. In fact, a recent claim is that a new test is 97% accurate in finding out if someone is telling lies.
Does It Work?
The test has, however, been approached with much scepticism and doubt. The technique is one that monitors the brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Researchers in support of the test claim that it is the gold standard for determining if a person is lying. Those who developed the technique cite that when a person is lying, there is an increase in blood flow to the brain. In turn, oxygen levels in the brain increase.
What The Scan Shows
In terms of what the researcher can see, the scanner shows that areas of the brain essentially brighten when questions are asked. The test was developed in the United States and researchers believe that it’s tougher to ‘cheat’ the fMRI than the traditional polygraph because the fMRI keeps track of changes in the brain, as opposed to the usual stress responses that link up to a lie.
The approach to testing is different as well. Rather than bombard the person being tested with a constant barrage of questions, the person receives more segregated questions that are asked in smaller bits. In this way, the brain can basically recover from the last question, allowing it to go back to ‘normal’. Then, the next question can provide a result that is more accurate and easier to read.
Bringing The Test To The Market
At present, the lie detector technique is available on a commercial basis in the United States. In fact, the technique has even been utilised by a forensic team investigating a crime. The aim is for the technique to be widely adopted around the United States as well as in Canada and Europe.
Unfortunately, there is still some controversy around the test. Queries have been raised about whether or not this test is ethical and there are issues around the level of invasiveness of the test. Its accuracy is also still under question, which means that routinely using it in court may still be a long way off.
Future Of Lie Detection In Forensic Science
Lie detection has been a challenge for decades in terms of forensic science. While it seems that there are many different kinds of techniques available, discerning which ones are accurate and reliable is an immense challenge. Given the use of these tests in the criminal justice system and their ability to change lives when they are used as evidence, we have to be extremely careful when evaluating any new technique for lie detection.
Using Lie Detection
The idea of implicating someone in a crime when they are innocent is a real fear that has to be examined before deciding to use a specific lie detection technique. However, it’s promising and positive that we do have ongoing research into this area. Indeed, if the new test is as accurate as it purports to be, it could be a very important technique for helping us identify criminals and bring them to justice.