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Research Topic

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Neuroscience perspectives on Security: Technology, Detection, and Decision Making

Topic Editors:

Elena Rusconi, University College London, United Kingdom
Kenneth C. Scott-Brown, University of Abertay Dundee, United Kingdom
Andrea Szymkowiak, University of Abertay Dundee, United Kingdom

Submission Closed.

The objective of this Research Topic is to document across disciplines (e.g. neuroscience, psychology, engineering, computer science) the most recent developments, ideas, methods and empirical findings that have the potential to expand our knowledge in the human factors involved in the security process. To this end we welcome empirical contributions using different methodologies such as those applied in human cognitive neuroscience, biometrics and artificial intelligence. We also seek theoretical contributions, such as review articles, or opinion papers on this topic. We hope the submissions will bring together researchers from different backgrounds to discuss a topic which has both scientific, technical and social relevance. We provide below an example of a typical security issue that may be fruitfully tackled from a neuroscientific and interdisciplinary perspective. However, it is not intended to limit the scope of our Research Topic to such an issue (surveillance, baggage and people scanning, profiling, detection of deceit, etc. are all suitable topics)

In security science, efficient operation depends typically on the interaction between technology, human and machine detection and human and machine decision making. A perfect example of this interplay is ‘gatekeeping’, which is aimed to prevent the passage of people and objects that represent known threats from one end to the other end of an access point. Gatekeeping is most often achieved via visual inspections, mass screening, random sample probing and/or more targeted controls on attempted passages at points of entry. Points of entry may be physical (e.g. national borders) or virtual (e.g. connection log-ons). Who and what are defined as security threats and the resources available to gatekeepers determine the type of checks and technologies that are put in place to ensure appropriate access control. More often than not, the net performance of technology-aided screening and authentication systems ultimately depends on the characteristics of human operators. Assessing cognitive, affective, behavioural, perceptual and brain processes that may affect gatekeepers while undertaking this task is fundamental. On the other hand, assessing the same processes in those individuals who try to breach access to secure systems (e.g. hackers), and try to cheat controls (e.g. smugglers) is equally fundamental and challenging. From a security standpoint it is vital to be able to anticipate, focus on and correctly interpret the signals connected with such attempts to breach access and/or elude controls, in order to be proactive and to enact appropriate responses. Knowing cognitive, behavioral, social and neural constraints that may affect the security enterprise will undoubtedly result in a more effective deployment of existing human and technological resources. Studying how inter-observer variability, human factors and biology may affect the security agenda, and the usability of existing security technologies, is of great economic and policy interest. In addition, brain sciences may suggest the possibility of novel methods of surveillance and intelligence gathering.

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