03 October 2005

The Liar's Brain

brainbig.....has more white matter in it than people who do not lie much.

Simply put, people who are adept at lying have slightly more complex brain structures than people not used to lying. This time, scientists, using magnetic structural imaging to map the brains of liars, have discovered an anatomic finding supporting this hypothesis.

Pathologic liars have more nerve fibers, and their nerve interconnections are far more complex than the traffic here in Metro Manila during rush hour.

So fascinating is this discovery, that psychologist Adrian Raine, the lead scientist on the study commented that:
"It is not easy to lie. It is certainly more difficult than telling the truth. Some people have a biological advantage in lying. It gives them a slight edge."

I suggest we do a magnetic structural imaging of the brains of politicians, lawyers, and salesmen. No offense meant, ok? I'm just curious how complicated their brain structures are.
People who habitually lie and cheat --- pathological liars --- appear to have much more white matter, which speeds communication between neurons, in the prefrontal cortex than normal people, the researchers found. They also have fewer actual neurons.

The differences affect a portion of the brain, located just behind the forehead, that enables people to feel remorse, learn moral behavior, and plan complex strategies.

The surplus of connections between neurons might enable these people to be more adept at the complex neural networking that underlies deceit.

Lying is hard work and these brains may be better equipped to handle it, the researchers said.

[LA Times Medicine, Sept 30 2005]

The abstract of the original study can be read here.

7 reactions:

Rygel said...

considering that when you lie you have to think of all the other lies to have to tell to back up your first lie i guess it makes sense that liars have a more complex brain structure.... lies give birth to more lies and you have to think of all the posibilities to make your original lie seem like the truth... whereas if you tell the truth that's it! (",)

celia kusinera said...

That's sooo interesting. Rygel is right, one lie would have to be covered by more lies thus needing that extra neuron network for the person to concoct stories on the spot.

beajerry said...

It'd probably be interesting to compare such scans with those who deal with a lot of trivial information, like crossword puzzle addicts.

rolly said...

This post reminds me of a Believe it or not episode which was then hosted by Jack Palance where they tried to compare Einstein's brain with the ordinary man hypothesizing it would yield a big difference. Nope! There was none. Not the size, the texture nor form.

This study is more revealing, I guess. and yes, considering the stories you have to tell when you lie. That really makes a lot of sense.

Cerridwen said...

considering the technology nowadays, that information is probably being used to develop a gadget that can detect truth or lies being told.

Somehow, I fear that. and that doesn't say I am a liar, I am stating it in the sense that there are things you lie about to have a better or peaceful life...

Dr. Emer said...

It sure makes a lot of sense, Rygel and Celia.

That's another great idea, Beajerry. It doesn't even have to be lying. People who handle lots of info in their heads should also be investigated.

That was the old study, Tito Rolly. Later studies have shown that since Einstein's brain lacked a particular small wrinkle called the parietal operculum, his other brain parts like the inferior parietal lobes were larger than that of most people.

Most probably, G. It would be wonderful if we can readily tell who's lying or not. It will be most helpful.

Andrea Leal said...

funny thing i suddenly realized my brain worked like that, i mean i can make a sorta map in my head really fast when i gotta tell a lie and people never realize when im lying and they never find out later, but i rarely lie, i just do it when i have to , and i consider myself to have a lot of moral so... am I a liar or what?