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Biotech Science

Lying Makes The Brain Work Harder 364

Posted by timothy
from the what-if-you're-just-thinking-about-lying dept.
Ant writes "This Wired News article says it seems to take more brain effort to tell a lie than to tell the truth according to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans. 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. During a truthful response, the fMRI showed activation of parts of the brain's frontal lobe, temporal lobe and cingulate gyrus."
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Lying Makes The Brain Work Harder

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  • BBC Address (Score:3, Informative)

    by KrackerJax (83403) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @02:37AM (#10950661)
    A BBC News article on the same topic:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4051211.stm [bbc.co.uk]
  • Re:Ok, we knew this (Score:4, Informative)

    by jfengel (409917) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @02:39AM (#10950675) Homepage Journal
    No it's not, at least not in my experience. Polygraphs that I've seen measure respiration, heartbeat, blood pressure, and sweat. The goal is to measure your physical tension, with the idea that you tense up when you lie. I won't vouch for its accuracy (in my experience, pretty low), but I've never seen one which measures anything about the brain directly.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @02:43AM (#10950690)
    MRI's use ridicously strong magnetic fields, enough to do serious damage to anything magnetic. You'd better hope that your tinfoil hat has nothing magnetic in it, otherwise it's going to be ripped right off your head.

    I've heard tell of cases where big metal plates were placed in an MRI machine. The field was strong enough to levitate / suspend the plate (say, roughly 10 lbs) inside the machine. The plate was supposedly rigidly held in place and any attempts to move it were extremely difficult.
  • This study is flawed (Score:5, Informative)

    by dannytaggart (835766) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:28AM (#10950834) Homepage
    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.

    This experiment isn't symmetric - the conditions for each group are entirely different. A proper experiment would consist of:
    1. a group who committed the act and lies
    2. a group who committed the act and tells the truth
    3. a group who witnesses and lies
    4. a group who witnesses and tells the truth

    Also, they should probably have a control group of people who didn't witness anything.
  • Samual Pepys wrote: (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:50AM (#10950903)
    The Samuel Pepys diary is published day by day on the web.Today it is the notation of 29 November 1661:

    a quote:
    but I could say nothing to it, which I was sorry for. So indeed I was forced to study a lie, and so after we were gone from the Duke, I told Mr.

    Nothing new it seems.

    http://www.pepysdiary.com/

  • Re:Then you must... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @06:01AM (#10951234)
    Something that did happen leaves a more realistic image in the mind.

    No. This is emphatically not true. Psychological research over the last has shown that memories can be equally realistic whether or not the events "remembered" actually happened. An event does not have to have occurred for you to remember it in exactly as if it had; the brain makes no distinction.

    Furthermore researchers have demonstrated that it's remarkably easy to train people to remember events that didn't actually happen. You start with a plausible nugget, and then flesh in through repetition a few specific (but fake) details. These details are the key. The brain of the typical research subject fills in the rest every time he/she reminisces on the (phony) memory with the researcher.

    For example, "what color were the tiles in your grandparent's house?" When your grandparents didn't have tiles in their house. The build on that to invent a story about some event that happened at your grandparents house...etc. It doesn't take very long to develop very complex, very vivid memories of very "important" events that never actually happened.

    This is a major ethical issue for the likes of psychiatrists and criminal investigators, as prompting or leading someone can produce traumatic childhood "recovered" memories or eyewitness accounts that are entirely false.
  • by benhocking (724439) <benjaminhockingNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @08:33AM (#10951750) Homepage Journal
    Rather, what you see in the case of lying is specific activity in the areas of the brain that are involved in the regulation of the emotional response, including ones (such as the amygdala) involved in fear and planning (prefrontal cortex).

    Not to mention those involved in sequence completion (hippocampus [virginia.edu]) and configural learning (hippocampus [newscientist.com]). Configural learning has some similarities to what-if scenarios, as does sequence completion. Naturally, this is why the hippocampus is good at both.

    And yes, I am a huge fan of the hippocampus.

  • Re:On the contrary (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gulthek (12570) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:23AM (#10952207) Homepage Journal
    Unless you believe the lie is true, as many successful liars do.
  • Re:Things to ponder (Score:3, Informative)

    by Idarubicin (579475) <allsquietNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @10:20AM (#10952732) Journal
    I wonder how accurate a "lie detector" made using this would compare to, say, a more standard polygraph test.

    Well, it can't be much worse [antipolygraph.org]...

    Of course, at the moment functional MRI requires a lot of very expensive, specialized equipment. The scanner itself will run you two or three million dollars, and it will probably set you back a thousand dollars an hour or so for time on it.

How many QA engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 3: 1 to screw it in and 2 to say "I told you so" when it doesn't work.

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