A possible first for a U.S. court:
In an upcoming juvenile-sex-abuse case in San Diego, the defense is hoping to get an fMRI scan, which shows brain activity based on oxygen levels, admitted to prove the abuse didn't happen.
The technology is used widely in brain research, but hasn't been fully tested as a lie-detection method. To be admitted into California court, any technique has to be generally accepted within the scientific community.
The company that did the brain scan, No Lie MRI, claims their test is over 90 percent accurate, but some scientists and lawyers are skeptical.
I noted the groundbreaking use of a similar brain scan technique in a court in India last fall, and the article linked above at Wired mentions that instance, too:
Lie detection has tantalized lawyers since before the polygraph was invented in 1921, but the accuracy of the tests has always been in question. Greely noted that American courts and scientists have "85 years of experience with the polygraph" and a wealth of papers that have tried to describe its accuracy. Yet they aren't generally admissible in court, except in New Mexico.
Other attempts to spot deception using different brain signals continue, such as the EEG-based technique developed in India, where it has been used as evidence in court. And last year, attorneys tried to use fMRI evidence for chronic pain in a worker's compensation claim, but the case was settled out of court. The San Diego case will be the first time fMRI lie-detection evidence, if admitted, is used in a U.S. court.
The use of brain scans in legal proceedings is gravely concerning to me, primarily for privacy and autonomy reasons. I'm intrigued to find out how courts assess the new technology under Daubert.