I am sure that this is a story that is going to be picked up and re-worked by those excellent writers over at Law and Order.
An academic at the University of Sheffield has used groundbreaking technology to investigate the potential innocence of a woman convicted of poisoning a child in her care.
Professor Sean Spence, who is a pioneer in the use of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to detect lies, carried out the experiments on the woman who, despite protesting her innocence, was sentenced to four years in prison. His results have now been published for the first time in the journal European Psychiatry.
Sean examined the woman’s brain activity as she alternately confirmed her account of events and that of her accusers. The tests demonstrated that when she agreed with her accusers´ account of events she activated extensive regions of her frontal lobes and also took significantly longer to respond: these findings have previously been found to be consistent with false or untrue statements.
Although the technology has previously been claimed to be 90% accurate, which is far superior to “lie detector" – polygraph – tests, its use has also been open to debate. Lie detection tests are already used regularly in parts of the United States justice system, as well as by businesses. But as far as I know, these are the first brain scanning tests of their kind, carried out on a real-life case, reported in the world literature.
Professor Spence said:
"This research provides a fresh opportunity for the British legal system as it has the potential to reduce the number of miscarriages of justice. However, it is important to note that, at the moment, this research doesn’t prove that this woman is innocent. Instead, what it clearly demonstrates is that her brain responds as if she were innocent."
"If proved to be accurate, and these findings replicated, this technology could be used alongside other factors to address questions of guilt versus innocence."