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Brain Scan May Exonerate Killer

The sentence of death row inmate Jimmy Ray Slaughter is being appealed, based on a new type of lie detector: the brain fingerprint.

Graham Inglis explains the process in Phenomena magazine. If you're shown an image that you haven't seen before, your brain stores it away as a new memory that can be detected on a brain scanner. If you HAVE seen it before, that reaction can also be "read." Since if he's never seen the crime scene, a suspect can't be guilty of the crime, the suspect is shown crime scene images while investigators look at which parts of his brain light up. Just as in a conventional lineup of suspects, other images are mixed in with the crime scene photos while they flash by on a computer screen.

"It is highly scientific," says Dr. Farwell. "Brain fingerprinting doesn't have anything to do with the emotions, whether a person is sweating or not; it simply detects--scientifically--if that information is stored in the brain." Brain fingerprinting is already admissible in court for identifying or exonerating criminals. It's more accurate than witness identification and may be more convincing to a jury than DNA.

Slaughter was convicted of shooting his former girlfriend and their eleven-month old-daughter. But Farwell says, "His brain does not contain a record of some of the most salient details about the murder for which he's been convicted and sentenced to death."

Not all science helps us: Some of it can be downright dangerous.

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