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Biotech Science

Lying Makes The Brain Work Harder 364

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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  • Err, of course? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    It seems like it'd require more effort to fabricate something than to recite truthful memories. I wonder if these lies were cooked up ahead of time, and if so, how well learned they were when they were recited?

    • You sez:

      "It seems like it'd require more effort to
      fabricate something than to recite truthful

      Well ...

      It doesn't take a lot to say "I am lying"

      Am I fabricating anything ?

      Or am I telling the truth ?

      • Re:On the contrary (Score:5, Insightful)

        by golgotha007 ( 62687 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @07:42AM (#10951326)
        It doesn't take a lot to say "I am lying"

        Keep in mind that when you lie, your brain will be more active, weighing the impact the deception might/would have regarding other memories and any possible future situations involved with those memories.

        I'm going to go out on a limb and attempt some sort of comparison...
        when you tell the truth, it's almost like the answer is cached, no thought is really required other than recalling that direct memory which holds the data.
        when you attempt to deceive, the answer is no longer cached; the brain must actively retrieve the data and then worry about dependencies, children, etc.

        It's no surprise that to lie or deceive requires more brain power than simply reciting truth.

        • Re:On the contrary (Score:5, Insightful)

          by v01d ( 122215 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:38AM (#10951785) Homepage
          Keep in mind that when you lie, your brain will be more active, weighing the impact the deception might/would have regarding other memories and any possible future situations involved with those memories.

          All that can be true when you tell the truth too. For instance, imagine your wife asking "Are you cheating on me?"

          You're starting with the assumption that the truth can't hurt, and that assumption seems quite obviously false.

        • Makes sense. Let's also keep in mind that a good lie takes into account more variables, like proposed "witnesses" to the pretend event, why they wouldn't be able to testify on your account, where your best friend was at the time (so he wouldn't know!) so he can't be asked to validate the story, extenuating circumstances leading up to the cataclysm of false occurances, etc, etc. I've told lies where I'd covered every possible angle so my Mom couldn't find out otherwise.

          Partying used to be such an adventure
        • Re:On the contrary (Score:3, Informative)

          by Gulthek ( 12570 )
          Unless you believe the lie is true, as many successful liars do.
          • Re:On the contrary (Score:5, Interesting)

            by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:06AM (#10952604)

            You don't actually have to believe it. You just have to have previously constructed the memory in your mind. People react differently when remembering things than they do when creatively "making something up." A common tell is when people glance up and to the left while speaking. This is a common indicator of creative thought. A good liar will have rehearsed or fantasized a lie in their head. When asked about it, they remember what they rehearsed, rather than creating it on the spot. Especially talented liars base their lies upon a true experience to prevent details from tripping them up. This way they do not have to think up anything on the fly.

            I'd be very curious to see what is shown in these scans when a well trained professional is put to the test. I suspect they are just detecting how creative thought differs from memory retrieval and that classic lying techniques will fool this new method as well.

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

          by Entrope ( 68843 )
          There are two huge methodological problems in the study. One is the sample size (6 liars, 3 truth tellers). The other is independent variables. The liars were all asked to lie about something they did. The truth tellers were all asked to tell the truth about something they saw.

          It seems likely that recall of action versus observation would have at least as much impact as lying versus truth-telling. To be good science, the study would have to be repeated with just the people who fired the gun or with ju

    • Re:Err, of course? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:16AM (#10950971) Journal
      To quote Mark Twain:
      I always tell the truth. I'm too lazy to lie
  • Thinking (Score:4, Interesting)

    by lordkuri ( 514498 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:36AM (#10950654)
    The reason they're seeing so much more activity is because a person who's lying is actively thinking, rather than just "regurgitating" information.

    Pretty simple concept IMHO.
    • Re:Thinking (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:46AM (#10950703)

      And where the problems will arise are with those people who can lie. After all a lie is only a lie if the person telling the lie thinks it is. When the person thinks they are telling the truth then the lie is not a lie anymore. Its all relative!

      Where I see serious problems with this is when people use it to test for terrorists. They will only catch those people who cannot lie. Those that can lie will pass through with flying colors and bomb everything. Great, I can see the excuses now, "But he was telling the truth..."

      I wish there would be a little less technology and more reliance on common sense!
      • Then you must... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Facekhan ( 445017 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @04:05AM (#10950771)
        The solution is to think of your lies in advance in considerable detail and regurgitate them when needed. Only when a question is unexpected can this method work and if you actually need to lie to a serious question then you probably should have realized it was a likely question like "What were you doing the night of the murder?"

        Keep your lies consistent too.
        • Re:Then you must... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by rzbx ( 236929 ) <slashdot&rzbx,org> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @04:47AM (#10950895) Homepage
          This would still require some serious effort, practice, and/or ability. Something that did happen leaves a more realistic image in the mind. So to pull something like this off would mean that the lie appears as real as possible to the person telling it. One would literally have to believe the lie to the point of not knowing it was a lie they are telling. Then again, this all depends how much data fMRI can provide and if the scientists can manage to interpret the data correctly. From my knowledge of the brain, it would be far more difficult to fool this, but most likely not impossible. One thought comes to mind, thinking about previous experiences as one is telling the lie might work. If one can manage to say a lie, but ponder on past experiences, it should fool the scientists (unless they use some more complicated ways of questioning the person and interpreting the data). One might need to train for some time to do this right.
          • Re:Then you must... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @07:01AM (#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 SerpentMage ( 13390 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @04:52AM (#10950910)
          I think you are incorrect here. Intelligent liars are not people who just lie. Intelligent liars create stories around their situation. To an intelligent liar the lie is the truth, and hence they are not lying. This means if an unexpected question arises then the question will be unexpected like a person who is not lying. There will be no difference in reaction.

          It is not possible to catch intelligent liars using machine detection. This is the crux of my problem with the use of technology to catch criminals.
          • Re:Then you must... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @06:03AM (#10951091)
            You are right. Intelligent liars create backstories too and just enough details to be believable. Too little details and you'll get caught off guard by questions you have no answer. Too much details pose the danger of inconsistencies and cast suspicion since normal people do not remember every tiny details. Acting and timing are important too. Answering too quickly is a way to get people suspicious.

            Your second paragraph is questionable, though. The machine detection does not measure believeability of the lies, rather it measures physical responses. Being intelligent is useless if you start shaking when you tell the lies. I am not saying that there are no people who could escape detection, but it's a different issue altogether.
            • Re:Then you must... (Score:4, Interesting)

              by OldBus ( 596183 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:07AM (#10951575)
              This reminds me of an archaeology programme on UK telly some years ago. An archaeolgoist explained how he had found a very well preserved female skeleton in a peat bog.

              In the UK you have to tell the appropriate authorities if you dig up human remains and the police got interested because this bog was only a few hundred yards from a house where a woman had mysteriously disappeared about 20 years before. The police had always suspected the husband, but he had always claimed innocence.

              The police went back to him and told him that they had found remains and the guy cracked. He confessed to them how he had killed his wife and dumped her body in the bog.

              Several months later, the archaeologist got his results back from the lab proving that the skeleton was Iron Age.


            • Re:Then you must... (Score:4, Interesting)

              by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @01:56PM (#10954302)

              just enough details to be believable

              I mentioned this in another post, but it bears repeating. A well trained liar does not make up a story from scratch with a certain level of detail. This is a good way to get caught as an unexpected question about a detail may indicate that you are lying. It is best to base your story on a previous experience, even one unrelated to the story. Ideally you should base it on something similar to what you want the interrogator to believe. If you want to lie and say you did not shoot someone when you did, talk about a night two weeks previous to the night in question but with the differences you want to incorporate rehearsed in your mind. By blending a real experience with fiction, inconsequential details are just memories of that real experience, and do not require any creativity. When you say you were at home with a good book, you can easily describe what you were reading about, wearing, eating, etc.

          • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @11:11AM (#10952637) Homepage Journal
            I think it's also the case that expert problem solvers in a particular area recruit fewer brain areas -- at least I think I recall reading this in Science News. This would mean that a beginning geometry student works harder to solve a given problem than a person who has been doing ruler and compass constructions for years.

            Lying is just another form of information processing. I'd guess that an accomplished liar -- a master liar if you will, is going to have a number of well learned strategies for deception, and thus work much less hard than a truthful person.

            Of course, very few people are wholly truthful. I wouldn't be surprised if each person were a master liar in some topical area, such as why my term paper is late.
        • by T-Kir ( 597145 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @06:07AM (#10951105) Homepage

          Keep your lies consistent too.

          I thought this reminded me of something, along with a quick Google search here it is:

          (Bashir tells the story of the boy who cried "Wolf")
          Bashir: If you lie all the time, no one is going to believe you, even when you're telling the truth.
          Garak: Are you sure that's the point, Doctor?
          Bashir: Of course. What else would it be?
          Garak: That you should never tell the same lie twice.

    • Re:Thinking (Score:5, Insightful)

      by InternationalCow ( 681980 ) <mauricevansteens ... m ['c.c' in gap]> on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @04:09AM (#10950786) Journal
      Well, it's not that simple actually. Thinking "harder" does not necessarily cause more brain activity in any kind of linear relation. 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). Lying lights up these areas because the liar fears being found out, which involves a kind of "planning" and an emotional response following from it. Could be useful for lie detection, if you get the scanner down to a manageable size :)
    • Re:Thinking (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sir Pallas ( 696783 )
      And what we know as "the truth" is already consistent in our heads. It might be unbelieveable, "but it did happen." Mix that with the fact that there is an infinite magnitude more "untruths" than there are "truths" and it becomes a lot harder to pick out something that seems consistent but is also untrue. (For every truth, there are a set of true conditions, concatenated. There are 2^n - 1 untrue things this truth can be turned into.) The bigger the lie, the more bits you flip, and the harder the consistenc
    • Yes, indeed. Another fact that I know is that pain causes the similar effect. Actually pain is nothing more than an information about malfunction of some body part. Pain causes increase in brain activity, very much like more complicated brain work, such as solving problems.

      BTW the easiest way to fool the lie detector is to make something moderately painful to yourself.
      Bite your tongue, press your fingernail into your palm.

      I wonder whether the modern EEG devices can distinguish one from another.
  • by slumpy ( 304072 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:36AM (#10950655) Homepage
    "No honey I'm not lying to you, just practicing for my MENSA exam tomorrow"
  • Yes. (Score:5, Funny)

    by smiley2billion ( 599641 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:36AM (#10950657) Homepage
    That would be correct, I have done several studies on this, since I am a doctor and all. Definatly more brain activity occurs when you lie. For that groudbreaking information I ask a mere $25 from each and everyone of you via Paypal... since I am a doctor and all...
  • BBC Address (Score:3, Informative)

    by KrackerJax ( 83403 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:37AM (#10950661)
    A BBC News article on the same topic:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4051211.stm [bbc.co.uk]
  • by Tezkah ( 771144 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:37AM (#10950667)
    They can't tell if we're lying, MRIs are notoriously unreliable when faced with tinfoil hats.
  • Ok then (Score:5, Funny)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:38AM (#10950669) Homepage Journal
    Now I know why sometimes I feel like the hardest working man on the planet.

  • noting that it has been documented that some people can fool a polygraph using various techniques.... Using fMRI as a lie detector is expensive, but it may be worthwhile in some cases -- such as trying to question a terrorism suspect

    Yes, terrorists aren't trained at lying, only FBI agents are.
  • by SandmanCL ( 444428 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:41AM (#10950682)
    ... to why I am to gosh darn smart !

    - I run a 40-yard dash in 2 seconds
    - I compleded college by the age of 18
    - I have climbed the Everest - naked
    - I became Mr Universe AND Miss Universe, in the same year
  • by Infinityis ( 807294 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:41AM (#10950683) Homepage
    I wonder if this study can be universally applied of if it only applies to personal experiences.

    That is, if someone wants me to recall a fact from highschool biology, I can probably work hard to remember it. However, I could probably work a lot easier and just make something up.

    This sort of thing has happened to me before. My parents once gave my sister and I a math problem, some multiplication of two large numbers. Much to my chagrin, my sister came up an answer the fastest, to which my parents replied "Wow! That's right!" I worked so quickly to try to come up with the right answer, and I fumed about her getting it right until I realized that she had just made up a number...my parents really didn't know the answer either, but by acting confidently like they did, I couldn't see the lies until a minute later.

    I'm quite certain that my brain was working a lot harder to do the multiplication than my sister's, which had only to pull a reasonable-sounding number from thin air.
  • Beavis... (Score:3, Funny)

    by nebaz ( 453974 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:42AM (#10950686)
    The lie-detector episode that ends with Beavis arrested as the "Hippie Ripper". "When asked how a teenage boy could have committed the brutal murders over twenty years ago, a police spokeswoman said, quote, "He's very clever.""
    • That one was a classic, thanks for reminding me...

      "So that's how the machine works. Do you understand?"

      "Uh... yes." *BZZZT*

      "Ok, just say something, anything, just so we can test it."

      "Uh, I killed a bunch of people once. Heheh." *PING*


  • Well, the marketting department has to earn its keep one way or the other...
  • Well, DUH (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Capt'n Hector ( 650760 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:43AM (#10950688)
    I don't need a MRI to tell me that lying is harder than telling the truth. When you lie, you need to invent a story and make it convincing. The fear of getting caught kicks in, as does the guilt of lying: the mind starts racing. Perhaps it would be interesting to see how the MRIs of habitual liars differ from "normal" liars. Does the absence of fear and guilt change the amount of work done by the brain, or do lawyers and such work just as hard as we do?
    • I wonder whether a well-rehearsed lie would show the same traces as telling the truth. I think the point is, you want to get your story down do much that you tell it automatically, without thinking, which is what the prefrontal cortex does. So to be a good liar you might need to "brainwash" yourself, but nothing in the article makes me think that's impossible.
    • I think there's always a bit of extra work, even if you're good at it. Being very well-prepared ahead of testing, or being actually delusional about the truth as the liar knows it, would be all that would negate the differences. If the lying is being done on the spot, even by an accomplished liar they still have to check for consistancy with past lies, and record themselves lying so they can remember their answer later on if asked again. If you're telling the truth you simply speak your mind, and don't worr
    • The point isn't that MRI tells you lying is harder than telling the truth, the point is that lying is measurably harder than telling the truth. The MRI can measure for a specific person saying a specific thing if they are lying.

    • Re:Well, DUH (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jesterzog ( 189797 )

      I agree, but I don't think your subject line is a very fair one, unless you're aiming it at the journalist instead of the scientists. Otherwise it sounds as if you're bashing the scientists for doing this properly and making sure that it's correct.

      It's likely quite intuitive to most people, including psychologists, that lying takes more effort. The problem is that intuition isn't good enough for science. This is an actual study that scientifically demonstrates that it takes more effort to lie. It

  • by doorbot.com ( 184378 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:43AM (#10950694) Journal
    Those Microsoft brains must be working really hard... just look at the Slashdot advertisements that are running with this story.

    MS's "Get the Facts"
    http://m3.doubleclick.net/790463/mrs03111_VeriTest _336x260_25k_v3.gif [doubleclick.net]

    Oh the irony!

    Maybe that content-based advertising system really does work!
  • Hmm... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Infinityis ( 807294 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:43AM (#10950696) Homepage
    Hmm...my wife is always tired and exhausted from "working so hard". This may explain a few things...
  • "Lying Makes The Brain Work Harder"

    I was halfway through writing an email to my boss with the subject "Siesta" before I read the second line and slapped my forehead.
  • Obviously, when you're telling the truth you're just recalling, but when you're lying you're both recalling the truth and inventing a lie, which involves creativity, logistics, etc. Of course your brain will be used differently.

    What's harder to do? Sing a song you already know, or make up a new one?
  • You don't say? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:48AM (#10950708)
    You mean that having to create a fiction that's close enough to the truth to be believable and memorable (so you don't forget the lies you tell!), yet far enough off to achieve the desired effect (be it avoiding trouble, personal gain, whatever) is more difficult than simply recounting a fact?

    Good to see it confirmed, I guess, and I do believe in pure research for research's sake, but even I am moved to say "well, duh!".
  • Just get out a yardstick and measure their noses.
  • ... fiction writers are brainy people. (Ok, biased observation)
  • Makes Sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dshaw858 ( 828072 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:53AM (#10950729) Homepage Journal
    This makes a lot of sense. Not only because as the first poster says does the person have to think, but they're not just thinking up information, they also must connect that information with a logical and sensical situation. So, if I were to lie to my teacher about my math homework, the truth would take little to no activity (didn't do it), a nonsensical lie would take a little thinking (the moon is green), but a logical lie requires an entire story to back it up (well, my dog was hungry cause he didn't have dinner so he decided to eat it, and...). Makes sense to me.

    - dshaw
  • Laid (Score:3, Funny)

    by thedogcow ( 694111 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:55AM (#10950738)
    I got laid today...
    whew. I'm pooped.

  • I must be exercising more than I thought!
  • I'd be interested... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TLLOTS ( 827806 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @03:56AM (#10950743)
    I'd be interested to see the results for various situations for lying. For instance, in this situation it was only done with a very specific type of lying where there was no doubt in the subjects mind that they were indeed lying. I'd be interested to see the results for instance however if the subject were given time to manufacture in their own mind a belief or memory almost, so that when asked a question to which they lie, the lie isn't manufactured on the spot, but rather is already in existance in the persons mind, somewhat like a memory. So would that cause the results to be similiar to telling the truth when lying in such a situation, or would they still show the signs that the MRI picked up, indicating that they were lying.

    It could be quite pertinent to find out if this were ever to be used seriously as a truth detection mechanism, as it could trip up in some situations, such as for instance a man who's just killed his wife, sitting in his car thinking to himself all the things he did today not killing his wife, essentially fabricating a story or lying to himself. When brought in for a lie detector test you really wouldn't want it showing that a murderer could indeed lie about comitting such an act without any sign showing that he was indeed lying. Of course, this method would be quite useless for questions which the subject hasn't had ample time to manufacture the truth for.

    • by wrecked ( 681366 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @04:36AM (#10950852)
      Another one would be if the subject believes a story to be true, when in fact (and unknown to the subject) the story is a lie.

      When the subject is asked questions about the story, the subject will honestly answer with what s/he believes to be the truth.

      "Yes, sir, there were definitely Iraqis among the 9-11 terrorists!"

  • This sentence is a lie.

  • Dub'ya (Score:3, Funny)

    by TheDarkener ( 198348 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @04:04AM (#10950765) Homepage
    Wouldn't it be nice to test this theory on the great W. Bush?

    Doctor: Ok, put the probes on the president, Norma.

    Norma: They are on, sir.

    Doctor: ... Can you make sure they're on tight? I'm not getting a reading here.

    Norma: Yes sir, they're on tight.

    Doctor: Mr. Bush, can you please tell us why we are at war with Iraq.

    Dub'ya: They are a terrorist harboring nation with weapons of mass destruction! Yeehaw!

    Doctor: Norma, can you turn down the sensor sensitivity, please? My reader just crashed.

    Dub'ya: Yee-haw!!
  • It just takes more energy for me to believe my lies than my truth...

  • Is this or will this become part of lie detector technology?
  • They burn most of their calories with common lies like 'maybe', 'I've had 3 previous partners only', and my favorite 'I'm 18!'

    You can tell an honest girl by how fat she is.

  • For some reason I don't think James Bond would get done by this machine. Good spies actually convince themselves of the lie so much so that they don't even think about it when they're questioned about their cover.
  • ...so has anyone thought to do this with poker players?
  • So.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dakan ( 746916 )
    So here's what I want to know:
    Since it takes more "brain power" to lie then does that mean that smart people are better liars?

    • Actually, that's probably true. It is difficult to be a good liar if you have a poor memory. You will get caught contradicting yourself a month later, by people with better memories than you. Creativity and logic play a huge role in lying as well. That, and I don't recall people generally accusing lawyers of being stupid.
  • The quote at the bottom of the page when this article was posted was:

    "One man tells a falsehood, a hundred repeat it as true."

    It's soo true! I do *ALL* the damn work around here. :P
  • by Wansu ( 846 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @04:23AM (#10950825)

    "Liars have alot to remember."
    -- an unknown but astute source
  • Things to ponder (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @04:28AM (#10950832) Journal
    I wonder how accurate a "lie detector" made using this would compare to, say, a more standard polygraph test.

    Also, I wonder what differences would be observed if you tested somebody who is more used to lying in a convincing manner, such as a a politician or undercover cop.
    • Re:Things to ponder (Score:3, Informative)

      by Idarubicin ( 579475 )
      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.

  • This study is flawed (Score:5, Informative)

    by dannytaggart ( 835766 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @04:28AM (#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.
    • by Sinner ( 3398 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @04:57AM (#10950920)
      R: "I'll pay you $50 to be in this experiment"
      S: "Sweet!"
      R: "Just lie down under this scanner..."
      S: "Is this gonna give me cancer?"
      R: "No no, it's perfectly safe. Just a moment... ok, main screen turn on."
      S: "Can I go now?"
      R: "No, first you have to tell me who fired the gun"
      S: "What gun?"
      R: "The gun that was fired about 10 minutes ago"
      S: "But I only just got here!"
      R: "Is that so... where were you 10 minutes ago?"
      S: "I was on Slashdot!"
      R: "You're lying!"

      FBI busts down the door, carts the test subject off to Cuba. Another day, another victory in the War On Terror.
    • Even then, the experiment is still flawed.

      If you are *asked* to say you didn't shoot a toy gun, it doesn't take any significant mental effort to figure out what to say. There is no guilt, or stress in order to sound convincing. You simply recite what you were told to say.
  • Compulsive liars? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @04:31AM (#10950840) Homepage
    I'd be interested for them to test this with people clinically diagnosed as compulsive liars. Since the extra activity comes from having to formulate a thought as opposed to just spitting back an answer, I wonder if someone who's normal thought patterns did that with lies would show up.

  • Lying Makes The Brain Work Harder

    I wonder how hard they had to think to bring us this lie?
  • Sometimes, I get the feeling that scientific research grants could be spent with a little more wisdom.

    Because, MRIs are fun, but no one should need that much tech to come to the conclusion that "making something up based of recollections and saying it" takes more brain power than "just saying it".

    Also useless, making a study about how gummy bears pick up dirt when dropped on the floor (really, sticky stuff picks up dirt when dropped on floor? amazing, please tell me more).
    Digging up corpses from the first
  • it was worth the effort :).
  • It says:

    One man tells a falsehood, a hundred repeat it as true.

    Does it mean that the article is B/S or what? :)
  • Polygraphs attempt to measure a physiological response to lying. This line of research is attempting to measure brain activity, which is a whole level "above" a physical reaction. Right now their are a plethora of flaws with measuring physiological reactions (I really enjoyed the book http://antipolygraph.org/lie-behind-the-lie-detec t or.pdf) Alhtough this research is still in its earliest stages, it is definetly promising. Although, this eventually (in a very long time) evolving into near mind reading doe
  • The fortune at the bottom of this page says (for me anyway): "One man tells a falsehood, a hundred repeat it as true." Certainly Darl and Co. must have the hardest working brains in the US.
  • by bar-agent ( 698856 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:15AM (#10950969)
    Lying may be difficult, but telling "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" isn't exactly easy.

    The problem lies in editing. For any complex situation, there are several truths that can be said, some relevant, and some not. You have to decide what your questioner really wants to know and think about that stuff.

    You also have to turn that stuff into a coherent sentence. In my case, my mind generally works in a very fuzzy way. I don't really categorize things until someone asks me a question, so It is hard to untangle the fuzz and put it in a nice, complete package.

    The final problem with telling the truth is the spin. You have to describe things in such a way that you look good and can't get trapped. Like the old "does this dress make me look fat?"-type questions, or pretty much anything you say to your boss.

    With lies, these problems kind of solve themselves. When you make up a lie, you build in the spin and story from the start.
  • I'm not so sure... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by yup that's me ( 827290 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @05:24AM (#10950994)
    Do you never think when asked to tell the truth? This was a simple test where people knew what was true and what was false. What if you're asked to recall details of an incident 6 months ago? Are you not piecing together information, reconstructing the memory from other snippets you know, retrieving long-buried information? While it may be true that fMRI can detect lies, I'm sceptical of the "common sense" explanation that you have to work more to lie. Furthermore, what about people who believe they have some guilt, but actually don't, say in the case of a death where they're not sure about suicide or murder. Do not the nearest and dearest of a suicide often blame themselves? What if they're asked whether they were responsible for their loved one's death? They might answer yes, even if they were not responsible in the case in question. You can pick holes in that example, but the point is that the whole issue becomes messy when one recalls that people have beliefs and interpretations of situations, and that will significantly affect their answers.
  • So... (Score:4, Funny)

    by m00nun1t ( 588082 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @07:43AM (#10951329) Homepage
    I finally kow... it's not the sex part that makes me tired....
  • No way! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Deosyne ( 92713 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @08:59AM (#10951545)
    You mean making shit up is more work than just remembering? Next thing you know, those wacky scientists will discover that creating is harder than copying, running is harder than walking, and water is actually wet!
  • by LighthouseJ ( 453757 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @09:11AM (#10951597)
    I saw this TV show one time where a police department teamed up with scientists and devised a better polygraph test.

    They strapped a suspect in a chair and showed them a carefully laid out sequence of images on a TV screen, some benign images (like bowls of ice cream or a beachball) but some are details about the crime (if murder, show police photos of the corpse, or show some evidence left behind like a scarf or jewelry that the victim didn't own, or possible accomplises already linked to the crime). While this went on, the scientists measured brain activity and they could tell when a suspect "remembers" pictures, the parts of the brain fire off and the scientists can see it. When the suspects brain indicates it remembers and it's on a crime photo, they can reasonably presume the suspect had something to do with it.

    Of course this has limitations, like what if the suspect was under the influence of something, or the materials about the crime aren't effective enough, but it's much harder to fool your brain.
  • Surprised (Score:4, Funny)

    by telstar ( 236404 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @10:07AM (#10952040)
    I half-expected that this story would be categorized under Politics.
  • by TimTheFoolMan ( 656432 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @10:29AM (#10952255) Homepage Journal
    ...Bill Gates recent MRI scans. They were off the charts.

    At first, I thought it was due to exceptionally high intelligence. Now we know "the rest of the story."

    Dr. Tim
  • only for beginners (Score:3, Interesting)

    by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Tuesday November 30, 2004 @10:31AM (#10952276)
    People can be [self] trained to practice deception easily all the time. Then it wouldnt take more efforts. Spies are trained in this technique.

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