One way to get more trustworthy humans for AI work

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Mon Nov 29 2004 - 23:51:23 MST

Published online: 29 November 2004; | doi:10.1038/news041129-1
Brain imaging could spot liars
Mark Peplow
Tests reveals patches in the brain that light up during a lie.

Lying activates tell-tale areas of the brain that can be tracked using
functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), according to scientists who
believe the technique could replace traditional lie detectors


Faro and his colleagues asked six volunteers to fire a toy gun. The
subjects then lay inside an fMRI scanner and lied about having fired the
shot. They also received a polygraph test. Five more volunteers who did not
shoot the gun were tested in the same ways to compare their responses.

Both tests caught out the liars and identified the truth-tellers in every
case. The fMRI scan showed that specific areas of the brain were active
during lying, including key parts of the frontal, temporal and limbic
lobes. Overall, more areas of the subjects' brains were activated when they


However he points out that the method will need to be made much cheaper
before it could be used routinely. Efficient lie detectors are needed to
beef up security in airports, he says, but million-dollar fMRI machines are
simply not an affordable solution.


It is too early to tell whether fMRI can be fooled in the same way as the
polygraph, says Faro. However, he says that the results are promising
because these characteristic brain patterns may be beyond conscious
control, rendering it much more difficult to cheat.


Keith Henson

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