Usman Afzali, PhD

Lecturer (Teaching and Admin), Psychology, University of Canterbury

Forensic Brainwave Analysis

Role: Researcher

Forensic Brainwave Analysis currently has three areas: Brain Fingerprinting (BFP), Complex Trial Protocol and Brain Electrical Oscillation Signature Profiling.

BFP is an ERP*-based knowledge detection technology aiming to detect concealed knowledge pertaining to an incident (criminal or otherwise) in a person's brain. BFP can also detect if a certain person has knowledge specific to a specific group or organisation (e.g., FBI).

BFP was invented in the early 1990s by Dr Lawrence (Larry) Farwell - currently the Chief Science Officer of the Brain Fingerprinting Technologies.

During my PhD at University of Canterbury, I worked with academics from psychology and law in a New Zealand Law Foundation project to replicate the accuracy and reliability of the BFP technology with general population and with parolees.

An EEG headset (see the figure) and a computer software are used in this technology.
Can we beat Brain Fingerprinting?
I have also investigated a cognitive psychology technique known as Think/No-Think in collaboration with the University of Cambridge, UK (read further). Think/No-Think might be used as a countermeasure against BFP. There is a potential for prospective Honours, Master’s and PhD students to work with us on BFP and Think/No-Think at the University of Canterbury. This will tell us what type of people could employ Think/No-Think, and potentially beat BFP.
*ERP = Event-related potential


Classification accuracy of the ERP-based Brain Fingerprinting and its robustness to direct-suppression and thought-substitution countermeasures

M. Usman Afzali, Richard D. Jones, Alex P. Seren-Grace, Robin W. Palmer, Dena Makarious, Mariana N. B. Rodrigues, Ewald Neumann

Applied Cognitive Psychology

Detection of concealed knowledge via the ERP-based technique Brain Fingerprinting: Real-life and real-crime incidents

M. Usman Afzali, Alex P. Seren-Grace, Robin W. Palmer, Ewald Neumann, Sarah Makarious, Debra Wilson, Richard D. Jones

Psychophysiology, vol. 59(11), Wiley, 2022 Jun 8, pp. 1-21