In a new study, titled ‘Brainprint,’ published in the academic journal Neurocomputing, researchers from Binghamton University in New York have suggested that the response of the human brain to certain words could potentially be used for replacing e-mail, bank account and social media passwords and retina scans.
The study contains the researchers’ demonstration of the feasibility of relying on the way the brains’ reaction to certain words in place of traditional alphanumeric passwords as well as fingerprint and retina scanning.
As part of the study, the researchers observed the brain signals of 45 volunteers when a list of 75 acronyms – including FBI and DVD – were read out.
In particular, researchers recorded the brain’s response to each group of letters, specifically focusing on that part of the brain which is linked with reading and recognition of words. The findings of the study showed that the brains of the participants reacted differently to each acronym. The differences in reactions were so distinct that a computer system could identify each volunteer with 94 percent accuracy.
With the results of the study revealing that brainwaves could be used by security systems for verification of a person’s identity, the study’s co-author Sarah Laszlo, brain biometrics are appealing because – unlike the ‘non- cancellable’ fingerprints – “brain prints.. are potentially cancellable. So, in the unlikely event that attackers were actually able to steal a brain-print from an authorized user, the authorized user could then ‘reset’ their brain-print.”