Anatomy of Lying

Anatomy of Lying Is there a "deception center" in the brain?By Ishani Ganguli ARTICLE EXTRAS Watching the Brain Lie A History in Deception By some estimates, deception evolved in primates 12 million years ago; and as primate species' neocortices grew, so did the frequency of their lies. In humans, learning how to lie, and how to detect lies, is a natural part of childhood development, studies sho

Ishani Ganguli
May 1, 2007

Anatomy of Lying

Is there a "deception center" in the brain?
By Ishani Ganguli


By some estimates, deception evolved in primates 12 million years ago; and as primate species' neocortices grew, so did the frequency of their lies. In humans, learning how to lie, and how to detect lies, is a natural part of childhood development, studies show.

Prevailing psychological models of deception outline three main components of lying: realizing one has information unknown to others, inferring how the recipient will interpret a deceptive act (known as theory of mind), and understanding a personal advantage to the act.

How is that ability carried out in the brain? Neurobiologically speaking, lying is harder work than sticking to the truth: you have to invent the falsehood and suppress the truth while holding both in your working memory. Sean Spence's group at the...

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