Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Deception

Jonathan G. Hakun, David Seelig and Daniel D. Langleben

in The Oxford Handbook of Social Neuroscience

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780195342161
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Deception

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Social Psychology



The use of blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to detect or study deception was first proposed in the lay, scientific, and technical publications in the early 2000s and reported in the peer-reviewed literature shortly thereafter. The initial experiments were based on the hypothesis that lying is an executive process requiring contributions from the cortex, responsible for response planning, execution, and inhibition, as well as the expectation that measures of central processing such as BOLD fMRI, would be a more accurate assay of deception than peripheral markers such as the polygraph. Despite a number of important advances such as differentiation of deception in single-subjects, the fMRI researchers encountered problems of validity and relevance of the experimental design already well-known to their psychophysiology and electrophysiology predecessors. This chapter will review recent progress and consider strategies for future research on the fundamental translational and theoretical issues in fMRI deception research, including ecological validity, generalizability of observed fMRI deception patterns to different deception scenarios, effects of countermeasures on detection accuracy, and potential forensic applications of fMRI-based lie-detection.

Keywords: fMRI; functional magnetic resonance imaging; deception; lie; repression; inferior frontal cortex; ventrolateral prefrontal cortex; response inhibition; lie-detection; polygraph; CIT; GKT; CQT

Article.  9262 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Social Psychology

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