Terms Relating to Lie Detectors Explained – Letter N
National Center for Credibility Assessment
The NCCA is the US government polygraph education, oversight and
research center for credibility assessment, including the polygraph. Other
historical names include: the U.S. Army Polygraph School (1951-1962); the US
Army Military Police School (USAMP, 1975-1986); the DoD Polygraph Institute
(DoDPI, 1986-2007), and; Defense Center for Credibility Assessment (2007-
2009). With its campus located at Ft. Jackson, SC, the NCCA falls under the
Defense Intelligence Agency. The “Center” as it is often called provides all
polygraph and PCASS instruction for the federal government, and accepts
polygraph students from state and local law enforcement agencies on a spaceavailable
basis. The polygraph curriculum is taught at the graduate level. It is
the largest facility of its kind in the world.
Peak of Tension test in which the examinee’s name is inserted among
other names to determine his response capability to a known lie of personal
Consists of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves, each
performing specific functions. Processing of nerve impulses in the brain is
somewhat localized. Basic functions are mediated in the lower parts of the
brain, activities such as hunger, thirst, and thermoregulation. Sensory regions
of the brain are located above, along with most voluntary control of muscles.
The highest regions of the brain are dedicated to processing and integrating
information, and the production of thought. The spinal cord is the primary
pathway by which most of the nerve impulses are carried to the brain. Nerves
throughout the body send pulses through the spinal cord to the brain where
they are processed, and the brain sends back impulses to regulate and control
organs and muscles. There are two main divisions to the nervous system: the
central (brain and spinal cord) and the peripheral (nerves and ganglia located
outside of the central nervous system). The peripheral nervous system is
further divided into the somatic (voluntary muscular movements) and
autonomic branches (various unconscious functions such as digestion,
sweating, heart rate, pupillary response, vasomotor activity, etc.) Some
taxonomies also add a third branch, the sensory nervous system. In
polygraphy, the autonomic branch receives special attention due to its
association with the physiological data recorded and analyzed with the
Structural unit of the nervous system and is the conducting cell. The
typical neuron consists of a soma body, dendrites and axon.
Chemical involved in the transport of the neural signal to another
neuron or effector organ. Neurotransmission has six stages: synthesis of the
neurotransmitter, storage, release, receptor interaction, re-uptake, and
inactivation. There are many pharmacological agents that influence
neurotransmission, and they are of interest in PDD research due to their
effects on tonic and phasic arousal levels.
Another term for the irrelevant question in a CQT. Also called a norm.
No Deception Indicated (NDI)
In conventional PDD, NDI signifies that (1) the polygraph test recordings
are stable and interpretable and (2) the evaluation criteria used by the
examiner led him to conclude that the examinee was truthful to the relevant
issue. The NDI and DI (Deception Indicated) decision options are used in
specific-issue testing and correspond to NSPR (No Significant Physiological
Responses) and SPR (Significant Physiological Responses) in multiple-issue, or
Non-Current Exclusive Comparison Question
A probable-lie comparison question that is of the same type or category
as the relevant issue, but excludes the relevant issue by use of a time-bar. It is
the type of comparison question developed and advocated by Cleve Backster.
See: Matte (1996).
Non-Exclusive (inclusive or inclusionary) comparison question
Comparison question that overlaps the relevant issue by time, location,
or issue. Also called Reid, inclusionary, or inclusive comparison question. As an
example, if the relevant issue were the robbery of a particular bank on a
specific date, the comparison question might be, “Have you ever stolen
anything in your life?” There is a long-running debate in the PDD community
regarding the supremacy of the exclusive over the non-exclusive comparison
questions. The current body of evidence supports the non-exclusive
comparison question. See: Amsel (1999); Horvath (1988); Horvath & Palmatier
(2008); Podlesny & Raskin (1978).
British term for norepinephrine. See norepinephrine.
Verbal shorthand currently used by some PDD examiners to signify an
irrelevant question in Relevant/Irrelevant and comparison question test
formats. Much earlier (1922) John Larson referred to “norms” as individuals
who were possible-but-unlikely suspects to a crime whom he added to his list
of persons to be tested so he could account for variables such as anger,
indignation, and fright that he could expect from innocent-but-likely suspects
he would be testing.
A single test conducted before diagnostic tests are administered to allow
the examinee to become accustomed to the PDD instrumentation and
procedures. Sometimes used in screening examinations, but rarely in criminal
examinations. They can be useful for comparison of tracings from the
diagnostic tests if there are suspicions that the examinee has deliberately
altered his physiological tracings. Norm charts may use rehearsed irrelevant
questions, unrehearsed irrelevant questions, or no questions at all.
Alternate form of an Inconclusive call, especially in the Federal
Government. Sometimes used to denote an Incomplete call in other sectors.
No Significant Physiological Responses (NSPR or NSR)
Accepted verbiage in the Federal Government for polygraph screening
examination outcomes equivalent to No Deception Indicated in single-issue
tests. The alternate language comes from an acceptance that screening
examinations do not produce the high validity of single-issue tests, and,
therefore, the results are better reported as the absence of physiologic arousals
rather than inferring truthful intent on the part of the examinee.
Systematic assignment of numbers to physiologic responses, along with
decision rules, so that PDD data analysis is more objective and standardized.
The first such system was published by Dr. John Winter in 1936.
Contemporary numerical analytic methods include the Rank Order Scoring
System, Horizontal Scoring System, 3-position scoring system, 7-position scoring
system, Lykken Scoring. Sometimes referred to as semi-objective analysis.
Numerical Chart Analysis
Method of rendering polygraph decisions that are based exclusively on
numeric values that have been assigned to physiological responses recorded
during a structured polygraph examination. The numerical approach does not
consider extra-polygraphic information such as case facts or examinee
behaviors. The numerical approach has four primary components. They are:
feature identification, numerical value assignment, computation of the
numerical values, and decision rules. Current numerical approaches include
the Backster, Federal, Matte, Horizontal, and Utah method, and the automated