fMRI Lie Detection: Good Reasons to be Skeptical

Jarryd Bartle's Blog

Can a brain scanner allow us to detect if someone is lying?

In the mid-2000s, a wave of articles were published in both neuroscientific and legal journals on a new application of a (relatively new) neuroimaging technique. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging or ‘fMRI’ is a technique which allows real time monitoring of blood flow and metabolism in the brain: a strong correlate for locating brain activity. It was (and is) a vital tool in identifying behaviours and perceptions within structures of the brain.

In the early days of ‘neuro hype‘ fMRI was promoted (at times ad naseumas a revolutionary tool that investigators and court rooms could one day use to detect if an offender is lying. Older techniques for lie detection, such as the polygraph, have proven to be woefully inadequate, provoking a need for a more scientifically sound method.

Unfortunately, the days of a scientifically robust lie detection…

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