Breakthrough percepts of online identity: Detecting recognition of email addresses on the fringe of awareness

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Kathryn Harris
  • Claire Miller
  • Brendan Jose

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • School of Computing
  • School of Computing, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NF, UK
  • School of Psychology, University of Birmingham


A key issue facing cybercrime investigations is connecting online identities to real-world identities. This paper shows that by combining the Fringe-P3 method with a concealed information test, we can detect a participant's familiarity with their own email address, thus connecting their real-world identity to their online one. Participants were shown Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) streams of email addresses, some including their own email address (probe) or a target email address. Familiarity with the probe was accurately detected with significant results at the group level and for 7 of 11 participants at the individual level. These promising results demonstrate that the method can be successfully used to detect online identities. Factors that may affect how well an email address probe stands out in the RSVP streams are also discussed.


Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Dec 2020