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We Can Now Identify People Using Their Brain Signals

A specific type of brain signal allows for the identification of an individual with unprecedented accuracy, says a study published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security. Basically, you can now be spotted thanks to your specific brain activity!

brain signals

The human race is united in more aspects than not, from experiences to feelings to circumstances — we are not as unique as we would like to think. However, we also each have our individualism; for instance, facial features allow us to make the distinction among us, our consciousness is unique to every one of us, and more accurately, our retinal scans and fingerprints can tell us apart. A recent study has now revealed a new way to differentiate from one person to another: by looking at brainwaves.

Identifying people with the new method named Cognitive Event RElated Biometric REcognition (CEREBRE) Protocol can be done with 100% accuracy.

Similar attempts to identify people using their brain activity have been made in the past but none of them could even attain a 97% accuracy level, let alone 100%. These techniques have largely focused on the brain signal known as the electroencephalogram (EEG) which indicates someone’s baseline mental activity over a period of time. The trouble with using EEG is that it varies as per the individual’s cognition, and is, therefore, not a constant.

The new study avoids this problem by making use of the brain signal known as the event-related potential (ERP). The latter allows for much greater accuracy, and is described as being absolutely reliable.

What are ERPs?

ERP brain signals are short-termed, and are produced as a response to a specific stimulus/ event. The response of each person is unique to him as we all have individualised tastes and predilections. For the study, the researchers examined the brains of a group of 50 participants, and developed a profile for each one of them by observing their responses to different images; these profiles were then used to identify the volunteers as per their ERPs since the signals were unique to each one of them depending on their taste and preferences.

Lead author Sarah Laszlo from Binghamton University, New York, explains that their technology might be used in high-security situations like identifying people getting into the Pentagon or the nuclear launch bay.

Another application of this technology would be to unlock phones via “mental ID cards”.


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