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VIPRE VSA Detection of Deception: An Historical Perspective



VIPRE is the culmination of over twenty years of experience and practical application in the discipline of physio-psychological detection of stress as related to deception. Vagosympathetic Instrument Processors for Reactive-Stress Examinations or “VIPRE,” measures the body's psychological and physiological stress-reactions, and captures that stress via the vagosympathetic nervous system. Unlike other voice stress analyzers which claim to utilize the often debated measurement of Micro-Tremors, or alleged changes in the AM and FM frequencies of the human voice, VIPRE utilizes technology created and substantiated by scientific and medically accepted documentation.


Throughout history society has sought definitive ways to test the veracity of their fellow man. By trial and error, observations and carefully listening to victims, witnesses and suspects produced a variety of answers to this age old problem.


The ancient Chinese reportedly believed that stress limited the salivary glands' ability to produce saliva, causing the “guilty” to have a dry mouth. The accused was required to chew rice and spit out a ball to prove their innocence. However, under stress, the "guilty" could not produce the saliva necessary and were unable to produce the ball of rice, but instead spit out kernels. Unfortunately, for the nervous but innocent person, their fate was uncertain.


Recorded history tells of the subterfuge where a donkey was placed inside a dark tent. The accused was to enter the tent alone and pull the donkey's tail. If the donkey brayed, the accused was told they would be presumed guilty. The theory was that the guilty would not pull the donkey's tail, not knowing that coal soot was on the donkey's tail. When the accused emerged from the tent with a clean hand, they were immediately pronounced guilty.


Not restricted, astute observers noted that guilty persons more often than not displayed a certain “language” or “signs” that could be associated with guilt; a darting eye, dry mouth, a hand over their mouth when answering, sweating, yawning and uncontrolled body movements during interrogations. Again, this method as stand-alone was less than scientific; failing to take into account even innocent suspects may demonstrate the same body language due to a fear of egregious consequences.


These observations were followed by years of experimentation with instruments designed to record changes in the body during interrogations. The polygraph was the first instrument designed to record these reactions associating stress with the guilty. While extremely useful, documenting much success by law enforcement and military intelligence, failures were equally noted.


Today voice stress analyzers, after a lengthy learning curve, are enjoying an increased popularity among law enforcement and military intelligence professionals due to their relative non-invasiveness. voice stress analyzers, used in concert with established protocols, have allowed police to solve more investigations and military intelligence professionals to focus collection efforts.


We know that stress, when accompanied by guilt and a known consequence, i.e. punishment, will cause the body to physically react. This stress may be overtly revealed in the form of observable reactions such as sweating, a shaky voice, dry mouth, increased body odor, runny nose, upset stomach, hives or coupled with notable body movements; i.e. body language. These overt responses are commonly referred to as the “Fight or Flight Syndrome.” The central nervous system which supports the autonomic branch, makes these these overt responses uncontrollable.
The central nervous system, brain and spinal cord integrate sensory data via a pathway known as the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is remarkable in that it relates to the function of numerous structures in the body, specifically the pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box). The vagus nerve also brings sensory information back from the ear, tongue, pharynx and larynx to the brain. When the para-sympathethic and sympathetic branches of the central nervous system transmit sensory data along the vagus nerve, the larynx (voice box) is ultimately effected.


The para-sympathetic branch of our nervous system comes into play under conditions of normalcy or homeostasis, by keeping body functions in balance.

The sympathetic branch becomes more involved when when we experience the “Fight or Flight” syndrome. Portions of this response occur in part below our threshold of awareness, and even the most accomplished liar will be unable to hide their psycho-physiological (mind and body) stress reactions.


When the brain receives and interprets information from questions being asked, this information may or may not produce stress, depending on guilt and the consequence involved. Once stressful information is learned, the brain sends a message through the vegas nerve resulting in a proportionate reaction in the vocal cords.


In the past, scientists often referred to lie detection as psycho-physiological detection of deception, also known as PPD. However, no "lie detector" has ever proven a level of efficacy sufficient to garner a full acceptance as being able to accurately detect deception or lies.
Conversely, stress can be recorded and this fact has been documented in numerous scientific and medical studies. As well, scientific and medical studies are rife with support of the Vagus Nerve and its relationship to the brain, psychologically and physiologically.

While no true “LIE DETECTOR” exists, VIPRE in the hands of a competently trained examiner following the manufacturer's recommended guidelines, will add a powerful tool to the resources both law enforcement and the military can use.


Voice Stress Analysis was introduced into the field of “detection of deception” or psycho-physiological detection of deception, also known as PDD in the early seventies as a means to offer an alternative to the polygraph. In January 1971, Messer’s Wilson Ford, Alan Bell and Charles McQuiston, who was a polygraph examiner, and all three former Army officers, invented the first voice stress analyzer known as the Psychological Stress Evaluator (PSE).

The following, though not a complete list, does provide some of the more relevant research into the study of voice stress analysis:

1. NASA research substantiated the presence of stress in the human voice, and the ability to detect and measure the stress. Brenner, M., & Shipp, T. (1987); “Voice Stress Analysis”; NASA Report N88-23395.
2. During a study by the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute into voice stress analysis, it was determined there existed a systematic and predictable relationship between voice patterns and stress related to deception. Department of Defense Polygraph Institute, Ft. McClellan, AL (1995); Report No.
3. The Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, NY, funded by the National Institute of Justice, concluded a three year study of voice stress and the ability to detect it. The report documented that stress in the human voice could be detected, and was directly proportionate to the emotional state of the speaker. Air Research Laboratory, Information Directorate, Rome Research Site, Rome, New York (2001); Investigation and Evaluation of Voice Stress Analysis Technology (Report # AFRL-IF-RS-TM-2001-7).

The Air Force Research Laboratory report, combined with the Department of Defense Polygraph Institute report, are just a few of the studies that support voice stress analysis. Voice stress analysis is also supported by the thousands of examiners from law enforcement agencies across the United States, that have used it with great success.



The Polygraph, used in law enforcement and military applications, has served the profession well.
Unfortunately, the inherent limitations of the polygraph instrument prevented its use in many cases, leaving a huge gap in vetting (screening) new hires, gathering intelligence and examining victims, witnesses and suspects.


VIPRE training, though comprehensive, has a shorter certification period. VIPRE has been designed for ease of operator use. As a result, an individual can receive a VIPRE Examiner Certification after completing just 40 hours of training.


VIPRE does not require an interview with regards t o physical or mental health. Anyone, who can come in for an examination and answer questions responsively, can be examined.


VIPRE does not require the uncomfortable and often alarming attachments required during a polygraph examination. Instead, an examinee only has to wear a small microphone. Since VIPRE only records the vocal responses of the examinee, they are free to move around in their chair, or scratch their nose if they desire.


VIPRE voice stress examinations can normally be conducted in thirty minutes or less. When compared to the length of time required to setup and conduct a polygraph, VIPRE is obviously the investigative tool of choice for law enforcement and the military.


The VIPRE basic examiner certification is a complete and comprehensive learning experience that prepares the student for certification as a Voice Stress Analyst. Training includes instruction in the dynamics and operation of the VIPRE, coupled with examination question creation criteria, psychology of interviewing in conjunction with kinesics, pre-employment screening, and chart and pattern evaluation.

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