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Facial Skin Surface Temperature Changes During a “Concealed Information” Test

When individuals who commit a crime are questioned, they often show involuntary physiological responses to remembered details of that crime. This phenomenon is the basis for the concealed information test, in which rarely occurring crime-related details are embedded in a series of more frequently occurring crime-irrelevant items while respiratory, cardiovascular, and electrodermal responses are recorded. Two experiments were completed to investigate the feasibility of using facial skin surface temperature (SST) measures recorded using high definition thermographic images as the physiological measure during a concealed information test. Participants were randomly assigned to nondeceptive or deceptive groups. Deceptive participants completed a mock-crime paradigm. A focal plane array thermal imaging radiometer was used to monitor SST while crime-relevant and crime-irrelevant items were verbally presented to each participant. During both experiments, there were significant facial SST differences between deceptive and nondeceptive participants early in the analysis interval. In the second experiment, hemifacial (i.e., “half-face” divided along the longitudinal axis) effects were combined with the bilateral responses to correctly classify 91.7% of participants. These results suggest that thermal image analysis can be effective in discriminating deceptive and nondeceptive individuals during a concealed information test.

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The authors would like to thank Kay Williams, Betty Rodriguez, and Rose Swinford of the DoDPI Research Staff for their assistance with data collection procedures. We would also like to thank Gordon Barland, Esther Harwell, Ron Kiefer, and Don Krapohl, all of whom administered the polygraph exams to our study participants. We are also grateful to Johnnie Rodgerson for his advice concerning instructions given to deceptive participants. This project was funded by the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute as project numbers DoDPI00-P-0011 and DoDPI02-P-0012. The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government

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Correspondence to Dean A. Pollina.

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Pollina, D.A., Dollins, A.B., Senter, S.M. et al. Facial Skin Surface Temperature Changes During a “Concealed Information” Test. Ann Biomed Eng 34, 1182–1189 (2006).

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  • Imaging/Infrared thermography
  • Behavior/Physiologic behavior
  • Polygraph
  • Face temperature