Nonadherence to the isochrony principle in forged signatures

Forensic Sci Int. 2012 Nov 30;223(1-3):228-32. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2012.09.008. Epub 2012 Oct 18.


Highly programmed skilled movements are executed in such a way that their kinematic features adhere to certain rules referred to as minimization principles. One such principle is the isochrony principle, which states that the duration of voluntary movement remains approximately constant across a range of movement distances; that is, movement duration is independent of movement extent. The concept of isochrony suggests that some information stored in the motor program is constant, thus reducing the storage demands of the program. The aim of the present study was to examine whether forged signatures can be distinguished from genuine signatures on the basis of isochrony kinematics. Sixty writers were asked to write their own signatures and to forge model signatures representing three different writing styles: text-based, stylized, and mixed. All signatures were digitized to enable high precision dynamic analyses of stroke kinematics. Vertical stroke duration and absolute amplitude were measured for each pen stroke of the signatures using MovAlyzeR(®) software. Slope coefficients derived from simple regression models of the relationship between stroke duration and amplitude served as our measure of isochrony. The slope coefficient reflects the degree to which stroke duration increases in relation to stroke amplitude. Higher coefficients indicate greater increases in stroke duration for a given stroke amplitude and thus violate the isochrony principle. We hypothesized that the duration-amplitude coefficients for forged signatures would be significantly greater than for genuine signatures suggesting non-adherence to the isochrony principle. Results indicated that regardless of the style of the writer, genuine signatures were associated with low slope coefficients Pen strokes forming forged signatures had significantly greater duration-amplitude slope coefficients than genuine signatures. These findings suggest that when forging signatures, writers execute pen movements having steeper duration-amplitude relationships than for genuine signatures.