WIRED Science

Season 2007 Episode 10.10.07

Technology: Lie Detectors

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Technology: Lie Detectors
AIRED:
The polygraph machine is still our best tool to tell when someone is lying - but it's based on technology that has barely changed since the 1930s. Now, there may be a better way to separate truth from fiction: a brain scanner that advocates say can literally look into a person's head and show when they're even thinking a lie. Polygraphs don't catch lies directly - they try to detect a person's fear of getting caught, by tracking measures like blood pressure, respiration and skin conductivity, which typically go up with anxiety. But they don't work on people for whom lying is so easy and natural that it brings no sweaty palms or shortness of breath. The brain-scanning technology known as functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, however, goes far deeper. Research suggests that there are parts of the brain which are active only when a person is thinking deceptive thoughts. The fMRI detects when those parts turn on, and bingo, the liar is busted. That's the theory, anyway. The entrepreneurs behind a company called "No Lie MRI" are so convinced that they're already trying to market the device. But many scientists remain skeptical that it works as advertised - and civil libertarians are alarmed by its implications for privacy. Join WIRED Science's Adam Rogers as he tries to outsmart a polygraph and an fMRI machine. Sure, the truth is out there - but can a machine really tell if lies are too?moreless
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