Neural correlates of deception: lying about past events and personal beliefs

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2017 Jan 1;12(1):116-127. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsw151.

Abstract

Although a growing body of literature suggests that cognitive control processes are involved in deception, much about the neural correlates of lying remains unknown. In this study, we tested whether brain activation associated with deception, as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), can be detected either in preparation for or during the execution of a lie, and whether they depend on the content of the lie. We scanned participants while they lied or told the truth about either their personal experiences (episodic memories) or personal beliefs. Regions in the frontal and parietal cortex showed higher activation when participants lied compared with when they were telling the truth, regardless of whether they were asked about their past experiences or opinions. In contrast, lie-related activation in the right temporal pole, precuneus and the right amygdala differed by the content of the lie. Preparing to lie activated parietal and frontal brain regions that were distinct from those activated while participants executed lies. Our findings concur with previous reports on the involvement of frontal and parietal regions in deception, but specify brain regions involved in the preparation vs execution of deception, and those involved in deceiving about experiences vs opinions.

Keywords: beliefs; deception; episodic memory; fMRI; lie.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Deception*
  • Face
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Young Adult