Representational Image
Representational Image

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is probing the alleged gang-rape and murder of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in Hathras of Uttar Pradesh, has brought all the four accused in the case from Aligarh jail to the Foreinsic Science Laboratory (FSL) lab in Gandhinagar for brain mapping and polygraph tests.

Discussions are going on about the brain mapping and polygraph tests to be conducted on them in the lab. Once the discussions are over, we will be able to know how long will it take for the tests to be carried out. We can`t share more details on it as it is an ongoing case," HP Sanghavi, the director of FSL told news agency IANS earlier in the week.

In this piece, the Free Press Journal dissects the Brain Electrical Oscillation Signature Profiling (BEOSP) process so as to provide the reader with a better idea of the brain mapping and polygraph test procedure in question.

What is the BEOSP test?

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the BEOSP (or the BEOS) is an electroencephalogram (EEG) technique by which a suspect's participation in a crime is detected by eliciting electrophysiological impulses.

The technique, also referred to as 'brain fingerprinting', has been categorised as "non-invasive" and a legitimate neuro-psychological method of interrogation.

The methodology was developed by CR Mukundan, a neuroscientist at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences at Bangalore.

How is it conducted?

An NCBI paper elaborates on the complex procedure that the BEOSP functions on, underlying which is a rather simple principle.

Our brains are remarkable in their ability to encode and store an ongoing record of our experiences. Neuroscience experts posit that the brain responds differently to novel experiences than to experiences previously encountered or participated in.

For example, when the information is obtained from a secondary source viz. books, conversations, hearsay etc. the signals are encoded secondarily since there no primary experiential components and the brain deals mainly with conceptual aspects. In the absence of a first-hand experience, the brain stores the array of signals as a function of the available knowledge base of the individual. This is considered 'secondary encoding'.

As opposed to this, when the brain pieces together an array of signals obtained from a 'primary' source, i.e. first-hand experience, the information is deep-seated and responds differently from an array of signals obtained from, say, a person who has received the same information from secondary sources (non-experiential). This is called 'primary encoding'.

Therefore, it can be understood that the BEOSP, an advanced brain imaging technology to identify a neural marker that indicates whether or not an individual has previously encountered a particular person, place, or thing has generated much interest in both neuroscientific and legal communities.

The technique is used to interrogate the brains of suspected criminals or witnesses for neural evidence that they recognise certain individuals or entities, such as those from a crime scene to detect knowledge that only the true perpetrator could possess.

How is it different from the 'lie detector' or the polygraph test?

A BEOSP procedure ideally requires no question-answer session to be conducted during the test, as opposed to the polygraph "lie detector" test that maps physiological outputs of the individual in question - like perspiration, blood pressure, pulse rate, and pupil response.

In the BEOSP test, the individual is simply presented with the crime events/scenarios, following which the subject's brain is analysed to verify if the encoded information is stored as experiential knowledge, which would mean that the subjects had experienced the sequence of events first-hand and not absorbed them as a secondary source during the recounting.

This way, experts say, the results are more credible since it is difficult to tamper with neuroscientific mappings as opposed to physiological responses which can be controlled and even potentially be faked with enough training of the mind.

Status of the Hathras case

The CBI has furnished a status report of the Hathras rape case before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court on Wednesday and said the probe will be over by December 10.

The probe is taking time as forensic reports are awaited, CBI counsel Anurag Singh told the Bench.

The Supreme Court had earlier directed the Allahabad High Court to monitor the CBI probe.

The Bench of Justices Pankaj Mithal and Rajan Roy heard the matter at length and expressed concern over the state government's stand not to shift the Hathras district magistrate.

The Bench also granted more time to the state government and amicus curie J N Mathur to deliberate on proposed modalities regarding the guidelines to be framed for the cremation of the dead in the Hathras-like situation.

It fixed December 16 as the next date of hearing into the matter.

The 19-year-old Hathras victim was allegedly gang-raped and murdered by four persons from an upper caste in case. The woman died during her treatment in Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital on September 29.

She was cremated in the middle of the night in her village. Family members claimed that the cremation, which took place well past midnight, was without their consent and they were not allowed to bring home the body one last time.

The UP government received a lot of flak over the way in which the victim's body was cremated without family's presence and how her family was treated by local police.

The case was transferred to the CBI by the UP government on October 10.

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal