Covariations among fMRI, skin conductance, and behavioral data during processing of concealed information

Hum Brain Mapp. 2007 Dec;28(12):1287-301. doi: 10.1002/hbm.20343.


Imaging techniques have been used to elucidate the neural correlates that underlie deception. The scientifically best understood paradigm for the detection of deception, however, the guilty knowledge test (GKT), was rarely used in imaging studies. By transferring a GKT-paradigm to a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, while additionally quantifying reaction times and skin conductance responses (SCRs), this study aimed at identifying the neural correlates of the behavioral and electrodermal response pattern typically found in GKT examinations. Prior to MR scanning, subjects viewed two specific items (probes) and were instructed to hide their knowledge of these. Two other specific items were designated as targets and required a different behavioral response during the experiment and eight items served as irrelevant stimuli. Reaction times and SCR amplitudes differed significantly between all three item types. The neuroimaging data revealed that right inferior frontal and mid-cingulate regions were more active for probe and target trials compared to irrelevants. Moreover, the differential activation in the right inferior frontal region was modulated by stimulus conflicts. These results were interpreted as an increased top-down influence on the stimulus-response-mapping for concealed and task-relevant items. Additionally, the influence of working memory and retrieval processes on this activation pattern is discussed. Using parametric analyses, reaction times and SCR amplitudes were found to be linearly related to activity in the cerebellum, the right inferior frontal cortex, and the supplementary motor area. This result provides a first link between behavioral measures, sympathetic arousal, and neural activation patterns during a GKT examination.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Algorithms
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Deception*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Event-Related Potentials, P300 / physiology
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology*
  • Guilt
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Lie Detection / psychology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology
  • Mental Recall
  • Reaction Time / physiology