Cerebral mechanisms of perceiving and telling lies were studied by recording event-related potentials (ERPs) both after an actual deceptive response and during the time interval when the subject decided to tell a lie. Ten healthy volunteers participated in the study. The test consisted of their playing a game against a computer. The subjects could choose between deceptive and truthful answers so as to win the game. The subjects gave a deceptive answer intentionally, the structure of the test ensuring equal numbers of deceptive and truthful answers. The relaxation times in the cases of truthful and deceptive answers did not differ significantly from each other. The comparison of ERPs accompanying deceptive and truthful answers showed the existence of a negativity with a latent period of 90 ms in the regions of the right frontal, central, and right parietal derivations. This negativity indicated that the brain reacted to a deceptive answer even if this a priori "erroneous" act ensured reaching the goal and, in this sense, was subjectively relevant. In terms of the cerebral error detector mechanism, this phenomenon may be regarded as a special case of a general response of the brain to giving an incorrect (deceptive) answer, rather than a response to a lie per se. The interval of time when, presumably, the decision on a deceptive answer was being made was found to contain the late positive component P540, which is most likely to be involved in the preparation of the deceptive answer and the intention to tell a lie.
Scopus subject areas
- Physiology (medical)