The role of anterior prefrontal cortex (area 10) in face-to-face deception measured with fNIRS

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2021 Jan 18;16(1-2):129-142. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsaa086.


Anterior prefrontal cortex (PFC, Brodmann area 10) activations are often, but not always, found in neuroimaging studies investigating deception, and the precise role of this area remains unclear. To explore the role of the PFC in face-to-face deception, we invited pairs of participants to play a card game involving lying and lie detection while we used functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to record brain activity in the PFC. Participants could win points for successfully lying about the value of their cards or for detecting lies. We contrasted patterns of brain activation when the participants either told the truth or lied, when they were either forced into this or did so voluntarily and when they either succeeded or failed to detect a lie. Activation in the anterior PFC was found in both lie production and detection, unrelated to reward. Analysis of cross-brain activation patterns between participants identified areas of the PFC where the lead player's brain activity synchronized their partner's later brain activity. These results suggest that during situations that involve close interpersonal interaction, the anterior PFC supports processing widely involved in deception, possibly relating to the demands of monitoring one's own and other people's behaviour.

Keywords: anterior prefrontal cortex; deception; fNIRS; face-to-face social interactions; hyperscanning.