P300 brain waves can help accurately predict terror attacks

August 1st, 2010 - 8:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 1 (IANS) A technology based on P300, an electrical brain wave response, can help scientists peer into the mind of a terrorist to know how, when and where the next attack will occur.
P300 is emitted within a fraction of a second when an individual recognises and processes an incoming stimulus that is significant or noteworthy.

That’s not nearly as far-fetched as it seems, according to a new Northwestern University study, reports the Psychophysiology journal.

In the study, when researchers knew in advance specifics of the planned attacks by the make-believe “terrorists”, they were able to correlate P300 brain waves to knowledge of terror attacks with 100 percent accuracy in the lab, J. Peter Rosenfeld said.

Rosenfeld is a professor of psychology in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, a Northwestern release said.

For the first time, Northwestern researchers used the P300 testing in a mock terrorism scenario in which the subjects are planning, rather than perpetrating, a crime.

The P300 brain waves were measured by electrodes attached to the scalp of the make-believe “terrorist” in the lab.

“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,” Rosenfeld said.

“The test was 83 percent accurate in predicting concealed knowledge, suggesting that our complex protocol could identify future terrorist activity,” he said.

Research on the P300 testing emerged in the 1980s as a handful of scientists looked for an alternative to polygraph tests for lie detection.

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