Charles Gibson interviews Dr.
Charles Gibson: We're
going to show you a new technology. I guess
you could call it a new kind of lie detector
test, but it's far more sophisticated than
that and it uses brainwaves instead of
physical cues like pulse and breathing rate.
And it's now become admissible in some courts
in the country.
It really is as I said absolutely
revolutionary technology and ABC's Bob
Woodruff is here to tell us about how this
Bob Woodruff: It's very new to a lot of us,
Charlie the technology called Brain
is partly responsible for freeing a man
convicted of murder from an Iowa prison after
24 years and it may be part of an appeal for a
convict on Oklahoma's death row whose case
will be heard by the US Supreme Court any day
How often have we heard
these words from law enforcement officials,
"These are details known only to the
The latest technology in forensic
science uses those details to prove a
suspect's guilt or innocence.
Developed by Harvard trained Dr. Lawrence
Farwell, Brain Fingerprinting uses brainwaves
to measure what Dr. Farwell: calls the "Aha!"
of recognition. When the brain recognizes a
word or picture it releases an involuntary
wave called a P300-MERMER. It's
now being used to determine whether suspects
were ever at the scene of the crime.
Dr. Farwell: "If the
person knows the specific details about the
crime, he gets a recognition response which we
can measure in the brainwaves when those
correct details about the crime are flashed on
Bob Woodruff: According
to Farwell, and his brainwave results, Terry
Harrington didn't have the details of the 1978
murder he was convicted of stored in his
Iowa judge allowed the new technology into
evidence in Harrington's appeal, and now he's
a free man. In
Missouri JB Grinder confessed and was
sentenced to life after a P300-MERMER revealed
he did have special knowledge of the 1984 rape
murder of which he was accused.
Farwell's science could save the life of Jimmy
Ray Slaughter on Oklahoma's death row for the
murder of his girlfriend and their infant
Farwell tested Slaughter on details
Slaughter claimed he didn't know.
Jimmy Ray Slaughter "The
room where the adult victim's body was
located, the position on the floor where the
adult victim's body was lying…"
Bob Woodruff: When
Farwell questioned Slaughter on the location
of the bodies at the murder scene and the
position of the woman's body on the floor,
there was no brainwave of recognition.
Dr. Farwell: We have at least a 99% confidence
that you don't have that information in your
what does that mean to you?
Jimmy Ray Slaughter: It means that what I've
said all along is true.
Dr. Farwell: And what
have you said all along?
Jimmy Ray Slaughter:
That I was innocent…Sorry (sobs)…
Charles Gibson: Now it's
interesting the test may come too late for
Slaughter's Supreme Court appeal, but the
defense is hoping to use it to reopen the case
And we are joined this morning by
neuroscientist and inventor of Brain
Fingerprinting Dr. Larry Farwell. Good
to have you with us.
Dr. Farwell: Good to be
Charles Gibson: Now I
want to get some image of how this works. When
they do lie detector tests, they react to
sweat on the palms, to heartbeat, to pulse,
etc., but really what you're doing is going
back to the origin of all those things, which
is the brainwaves.
Dr. Farwell: Right. We
measure information in the brain. We
don't measure whether they're anxious or not,
whether they're lying or not, we simply
measure a brain response that tells us if that
information we're flashing on the screen is
something they recognize as significant, so we
can know if they know those details about the
Charles Gibson: This is
so new that if you introduce it in a court
case don't you really in effect have to
educate the judge as to what it is?
Dr. Farwell: Yes we do
have to educate the judge and of course that's
what we do.
We were successful in the state of Iowa
in the Harrington case in achieving
admissibility for Brain Fingerprinting.
Charles Gibson: Have
some judges said "Don't bother me with this, I
don't understand it"?
Dr. Farwell: Not yet. I
think we'll continue to be successful because
the science is very solid. I
think everyone acknowledges the science is
very solid behind the technique.
Charles Gibson: So if
you showed me, for instance if I was strapped
up to this thing, and you showed me a picture
of three people, and I knew one of them.
Dr. Farwell: Right
Charles Gibson: And you
didn't know which one of the three I knew,
would you be able to tell right away which one
Dr. Farwell: Yes,
Charles Gibson: Because
I would have some sort of a brainwave reaction
this P300 – what did he say?
Dr. Farwell: Right, this
P300-MERMER response. When you see something
that's significant, that you recognize as
significant, the brain goes "Aha!" and we can
pick up a pattern from the brain that we
analyze with a computer and we can say "Yes,
he recognizes that" or "No, he doesn't."
Charles Gibson: All
there some way that the test might be
For instance, let's say somebody when
they committed the crime was on drugs, and
therefore doesn't remember or has no
remembrance of where he was at the time, so he
wouldn't necessarily react to the position of
the bodies in the room or whatever.
Dr. Farwell: Well, JB
Grinder, turned out to be a serial killer, he
was on drugs and alcohol at the time of the
crime, he was actually on therapeutic drugs,
psychotropic drugs at the time of the Brain
Fingerprinting test. We
got very good results from him. People
remember the very major events in their life. Even
a serial killer only does it a few times, and
it's a big event. So
that tends to have a very solid record in the
can detect that.
Charles Gibson: Could
you also use it to determine, because there's
a lot of controversy for instance about people
who have repressed memory about child abuse. Could
you use it to determine whether or not they
had actually been abused?
Dr. Farwell: We
could use it but the way we would use it is
not on the victim or alleged victim, we would
use it on the suspect. We'd
get all the details about the alleged crime
from the person who believed they'd been
Charles Gibson: And then
do it on the alleged abuser.
Dr. Farwell: Right. And
we'd see if he had that record stored in his
brain or not.
We could detect that.
Charles Gibson: Hmm. How
widely, how many applications of this, how
long have you been doing research on it, how
widely have you tried to use it.
Dr. Farwell: Well, I
invented it more than 15 years ago, and I
actually withheld the technology from the
public for 15 years to do more research. We
did research with the FBI, the CIA, the US
Navy, the government spend over a million
dollars on the research on Brain
Fingerprinting. We showed not only in the
laboratory but in over 100 actual real-life
situations that the technology was effective
and we have ever yet to ever get a wrong
been correct in every case so far.
Charles Gibson: All
right, well very interesting to have you with
us, and I'd love to try this out. Can
we do this sometime, do a demonstration on the
Dr. Farwell: Sure, we
can do that.
Charles Gibson: All
right, we'll get you back and we will do that. Appreciate