Brain scan good enough for murder conviction

Damn, that’s harsh. A woman in India has been convicted of murder because her brain scans said so. If that sounds like a pretty shaky conviction to you, you’re not alone.

BEOS begins with a silent suspect and an EEG. When details of the crime are read aloud the resulting brain scans are then analyzed. Basically, if something lights up where it shouldn’t then that person is “proved” guilty. It’s important to mote that software converts the EEG readings into viewable scans. Naturally, the inventors have high praise for the system, claiming that it can even differentiate the difference between crimes committed and events witnessed.

The Brain Electrical Oscillations Signature test, or BEOS, was developed by Champadi Raman Mukundan, an Indian neuroscientist who formerly ran the clinical psychology department of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences in Bangalore.

From IHT:

The technologies, generally regarded as promising but unproved, have yet to be widely accepted as evidence — except in India, where in recent years judges have begun to admit brain scans. But it was only in June, in a murder case in Pune, in Maharashtra State, that a judge explicitly cited a scan as proof that the suspect’s brain held “experiential knowledge” about the crime that only the killer could possess, sentencing her to life in prison.

Researchers have been working forever on trying to find a reliable method for lie detection. Maybe this is the Rosetta Stone. Yeah. Maybe so. Except that this technology that has been used to sentence a woman to life in prison has not been independently tested or published in a “respected scientific journal”.

Reaction to the conviction based on the BEOS test has stirred up the neuroscience community, eliciting responses such as “shaky at best”, “interesting and disturbing” and “not… credible”.

Judge S. S. Phansalkar-Joshi included a nine-page defense of BEOS as part of his opinion on the case.

IHT via Slashdot