Screenwriter with Brain Question

Timothy Budd bbudd at laurel.ocs.mq.edu.au
Sun Sep 4 03:14:21 EST 1994

In article <348ad0$hqc at ixnews1.ix.netcom.com> asylvan at ix.netcom.com (Sylvan Freeman) writes:
>I am not a scientist!  Skip this post if you are not interested in
>helping a screenwriter who needs an answer for a film.
>Question: like a fingerprint, is there any unique identifier in a person's
>brain wave pattern, e.g., in an EEG?  (At this point I must ask you to
>exuse any ignorance on my part or misuse of terminology.  I apologize
>profusely...)  For instance, during REM, or perhaps meditation, if
>reviewing the EEG from several subjects, over time would you be able
>to look at the printout and _know_ whose pattern you were looking at?

Even an experienced neurologist or EEG techniion could only probably do this 
with limited accuracy but the variability in the raw EEG is fairly high so it
would be difficult. Some people have fairly distinctive EEG and in these it
would be easier especially for patients with certain neurological disorders.
I don't think the persons state (ie. REM, awake, meditating etc) would make
any difference. Generally though, my definitive answer would be "sort of". 

>If the answer to the above is "no," if someone were to discover
>a unique identifier, what form would you expect it to take?
There is a type of "brain wave" called an ERP (event-related potential)
which is a derivitive of the raw EEG and although this varies within a
person, this variablility is much less than between people. In fact I bet I
could identify a person's ERP at least 75% of the time if I could compare it
with another ERP from the same person.

I would guess that a unique identifier could be obtained through a battery
of recording sessions where someones brain electrical activity was examined
over a range of conditions with a variety of analytic techniques such as
spectral, topographic and statistical analyses. I don't think this has
received much attention probably because no-one has thought of a good reason 

Bill Budd

(Available for consultancies to Screen writers etc.) :-)

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