[…] rather than focusing on the potential end-result of lying, [Faro and Mohamed] are developing a way to detect deception by looking directly at people’s brain activity using MRI brain scanners. “We are going to the source, we are going to the region of the brain which is actually formulating a response,” says Mohamed, the MRI physicist on the team.
[…] In this preliminary study, the researchers wanted to see whether brain scans can even pick up a significant difference between brain activity during lying versus when telling the truth. The researchers had six of eleven volunteers fire a gun, then lie and say they didn’t. The other five could truthfully say they didn’t fire the gun. All the volunteers were then given functional MRI and polygraph tests during which they denied having fired the gun.
As they reported in The Journal of Radiology, the brain scans revealed unique areas that only lit up during lying. However, the researchers point out that there is never going to be one telltale spot in the brain that automatically indicates a lie. “There really is no one lying center,” says Faro. “There are multiple areas in the brain that activate because there’s a lot of processes that have to take place.”
[..] In fact, Faro hopes that this technology will usher in a new era of accuracy in lie detection, which could be applied in areas from preventing insurance fraud to freeing falsely-accused prisoners.
Reference: Feroze B. Mohamed, Scott H. Faro, Nathan J. Gordon, Steven M. Platek, Harris Ahmad, and J. Michael Williams (2006). Brain Mapping of Deception and Truth Telling about an Ecologically Valid Situation: Functional MR Imaging and Polygraph Investigation—Initial Experience . Radiology Volume 238, Issue 2