Behavioural and functional anatomical correlates of deception in humans

Neuroreport. 2001 Sep 17;12(13):2849-53. doi: 10.1097/00001756-200109170-00019.


Brain activity in humans telling lies has yet to be elucidated. We developed an objective approach to its investigation, utilizing a computer-based interrogation and fMRI. Interrogatory questions probed recent episodic memory in 30 volunteers studied outside and 10 volunteers studied inside the MR scanner. In a counter-balanced design subjects answered specified questions both truthfully and with lies. Lying was associated with longer response times (p < 0.001) and greater activity in bilateral ventrolateral prefrontal cortices (p < 0.05, corrected). These findings were replicated using an alternative protocol. Ventrolateral prefrontal cortex may be engaged in generating lies or withholding the truth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Deception*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lie Detection / psychology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Neuropsychological Tests / standards
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Prefrontal Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology*