Article

The truth about lying: Inhibition of the anterior prefrontal cortex improves deceptive behavior

Institute of Medical Psychology and Behavioral Neurobiology, University of Tuebingen, Gartenstrasse 29, Tuebingen, Germany.
Cerebral Cortex (Impact Factor: 8.67). 06/2009; 20(1):205-13. DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhp090
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Recent neuroimaging studies have indicated a predominant role of the anterior prefrontal cortex (aPFC) in deception and moral cognition, yet the functional contribution of the aPFC to deceptive behavior remains unknown. We hypothesized that modulating the excitability of the aPFC by transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) could reveal its functional contribution in generating deceitful responses. Forty-four healthy volunteers participated in a thief role-play in which they were supposed to steal money and then to attend an interrogation with the Guilty Knowledge Test. During the interrogation, participants received cathodal, anodal, or sham tDCS. Remarkably, inhibition of the aPFC by cathodal tDCS did not lead to an impairment of deceptive behavior but rather to a significant improvement. This effect manifested in faster reaction times in telling lies, but not in telling the truth, a decrease in sympathetic skin-conductance response and feelings of guilt while deceiving the interrogator and a significantly higher lying quotient reflecting skillful lying. Increasing the excitability of the aPFC by anodal tDCS did not affect deceptive behavior, confirming the specificity of the stimulation polarity. These findings give causal support to recent correlative data obtained by functional magnetic resonance imaging studies indicating a pivotal role of the aPFC in deception.

Download full-text

Full-text

Available from: Ahmed A Karim, Aug 02, 2015
1 Follower
 · 
182 Views
  • Source
    • "We did not choose a more posterior electrode as in previous studies (e.g. occipital cortex, Karim et al. (2010) and Bellaı¨che et al. (2013)), because of potential phosphene induction which could have interfered with stimulus processing in our experiment (Antal et al., 2003a, b). We used electrodes of two different sizes: 35 cm 2 for the active electrode, and 100 cm 2 for the return electrode. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Orbitofrontal reality filtering denotes a memory control mechanism necessary to keep thought and behavior in phase with reality. Its failure induces reality confusion as evident in confabulation and disorientation. In the present study, we explored the influence of orbitofrontal transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) on reality filtering. Twenty healthy human subjects made a reality filtering task, while receiving cathodal, anodal, or sham stimulation over the frontal pole in three sessions separated by at least 1 week. Computational models predicted that this montage can produce polarity-specific current flow across the posterior medial orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). In agreement with our hypothesis, we found that cathodal tDCS over the frontal pole specifically impaired reality filtering in comparison to anodal and sham stimulation. This study shows that reality filtering, an orbitofrontal function, can be modulated with tDCS.
    Neuroscience 04/2014; 265:21–27. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2014.01.052 · 3.33 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "However, tDCS research in its current form is a fairly recent endeavor, being revived at the turn of the millennium by Paulus, Nitsche, Antal, and other researchers based in Gottingen, Germany. Since then, a growing number of researchers have pursued cognitive tDCS studies, examining the effects of tDCS on learning and memory, attention and perception, language production and acquisition, problem solving and decision making, and even deception (Karim et al., 2010). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This article reviews studies demonstrating enhancement with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) of attention, learning, and memory processes in healthy adults. Given that these are fundamental cognitive functions, they may also mediate stimulation effects on other higher-order processes such as decision-making and problem solving. Although tDCS research is still young, there have been a variety of methods used and cognitive processes tested. While these different methods have resulted in seemingly contradictory results among studies, many consistent and noteworthy effects of tDCS on attention, learning, and memory have been reported. The literature suggests that although tDCS as typically applied may not be as useful for localization of function in the brain as some other methods of brain stimulation, tDCS may be particularly well-suited for practical applications involving the enhancement of attention, learning, and memory, in both healthy subjects and in clinical populations.
    NeuroImage 08/2013; 85. DOI:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2013.07.083 · 6.36 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Thus, these findings suggest that the normal functioning of the prefrontal cortex is a critical prerequisite for (successful) lying, but does not affect individuals' propensity to tell a lie or the truth. In line with this interpretation are recent studies demonstrating that disrupting areas of the prefrontal cortex with transcranial direct current stimulation does not affect individuals' propensity to deceive, but changes the speed and efficiency of deceptive responses (Karim et al., 2010; Priori et al., 2008). Moreover, although preschool children can distinguish mistakes from lies and are capable of deception, these children are far from being " perfect liars " (Polak & Harris, 1999; Siegal & Peterson, 1998). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Humans engage in deceptive behavior that negatively affects others. The propensity to deceive is, however, characterized by vast inter-individual heterogeneity that is poorly understood. Attempts to investigate the origins of this heterogeneity have so far mainly relied on subjective measures and have shown little predictive power. Here, we used resting electroencephalography to measure objective and stable individual differences in neural baseline activation in combination with an ecologically valid deception paradigm. Results showed that task-independent baseline activation in the anterior insula, a brain area implicated in mapping internal bodily states and in representing emotional arousal and conscious feelings, predicts individuals' propensity for deceptive behavior. The higher the neural baseline activation in this area is, the lower individuals' propensity to deceive. Moreover, results provide evidence that high baseline activation in the anterior insula is associated with negative affect and dispositional tendencies to avoid aversive emotional situations. These results provide converging neural and psychological evidence that individuals might avoid a deceptive act due to a highly active negative emotional system which would make a deceptive act too stressful and bothersome.
    Biological psychology 06/2013; 94(1). DOI:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2013.05.018 · 3.47 Impact Factor
Show more