Behavioural and Neural Correlates of Deception

From The Structure of Deception (Makowski et al., 2020)

Traditional lie detection as used in polygraph test is based on examining one’s physiological arousal (measuring skin conductance, heart rate, and respiration) to infer lying. However, such physiological arousal may merely be reflecting anxiety and fear during a polygraph examination, rather than lying per se.

As physiological arousal could not be used to accurately infer lying, researchers are urged to further look into the mental processes related to lying. To date, different neurophysiological signals, including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and event-related potentials (ERP) have been studied for possible application to index deception. Past studies have shown evidences that strongly supporting the hypothesis that deception requires the coordination of multiple cognitive processes and thus is more cognitively taxing than truth telling. Despite the positive findings, previous studies were often criticized for not capturing lying as it exists in the real world. Indeed, majority of the experimental paradigms required participants to lie about perceptual stimuli or memorized materials. More importantly, unlike lying in the real world, the lies generated in research labs were often not spontaneous but instructed.

To increase the translational value of the research in deception and lie detection, we aim to investigate the neural correlates of lying using paradigms that can elicit lying similar to those in the real world. In addition, we also seek to explore the structure of dispositional deception by developing and validating a short and reliable questionnaire to characterize individuals’ lying patterns.

Dominique Makowski
Dominique Makowski

Trained as neuropsychologist and CBT psychotherapist, I am currently working as a lecturer at the University of Sussex, United Kingdom, where where we study the neurophysiological underpinnings of reality perception.

Annabel Chen
Annabel Chen
Professor of Psychology
Lab Director

Dr. SH Annabel Chen is a clinical neuropsychologist, and currently a Faculty member of Psychology at the School of Social Sciences.