Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging and the Challenge of Balancing Human Security with State Security

Wolfgang Slany, Farhan Sahito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Recent reports reveal that violent extremists are trying to obtain insider positions that may increase the impact of any attack on critical infrastructure and could potentially endanger state services, people’s lives and even democracy. It is of utmost importance to be able to adopt extreme security measures in certain high-risk situations in order to secure critical infrastructure and thus lower the level of terrorist threats while preserving the rights of citizens. To counter these threats, our research is aiming for extreme measures to analyse and evaluate human threats related assessment methods for employee screening and evaluations using cognitive analysis technology, in particular functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). The development of fMRI has led some researchers to conclude that this technology has forensic potential and may be useful in investing personality traits, mental illness, psychopathology, racial prejudice and religious extremism. However, critics claim that this technology may present many new human rights and ethical dilemmas and could result in potentially disastrous outcomes. The main thrust of the research is to counter above concerns and harmful consequences by presenting a set of ethical and professional guidelines that will substantially reduce the risk of unethical use of this technology. The significance of this research is to ensure the limits of the state/organisation’s right to peer into an individual’s thought process with and without consent, to define the parameters of a person’s right to ensure that fMRI scans do not pose more than an appropriate threat to cognitive liberty, and the proper use of such information in civil, forensic and security settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-66
JournalHuman Security Perspectives Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Fields of Expertise

  • Information, Communication & Computing

Treatment code (Nähere Zuordnung)

  • Review


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