Monday, November 29, 2004

Truth-Telling and the Brain

Can brain-imaging technologies show whether we are being truthful or not? A current study, reported by Reuters (as found on the Houston Chronicle website), takes a look:
Brain scans can tell who's lying, who's not
Reuters News Service
Nov. 29, 2004, 1:50PM

[snip]

"There may be unique areas in the brain involved in deception that can be measured with fMRI," said Dr. Scott Faro, director of the Functional Brain Imaging Center at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

"There may be unique areas in the brain involved in truth-telling," Faro added at a news conference.

Faro and colleagues tested 10 volunteers. Six of them were asked to shoot a toy gun and then lie and say they didn't do it. Three others who watched told the truth about what happened. One volunteer dropped out of the study.

[snip]

There were clear differences between the liars and the truth-tellers, Faro's team told a meeting in Chicago of the Radiological Society of North America.

"We found a total of seven areas of activation in the deception (group)," he said. "We found four areas of activity in the truth-telling arm."

Overall, it seemed to take more brain effort to tell the lie than to tell the truth, Faro found.

Lying caused activity in the frontal part of the brain --- the medial inferior and pre-central areas, as well as the hippocampus and middle temporal regions and the limbic areas. Some of these are involved in emotional responses, Faro said.

During a truthful response, the fMRI showed activation of parts of the brain's frontal lobe, temporal lobe and cingulate gyrus.
[ ... Read the full article ... ]

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