Skip to comments.Liars’ brains make fibbing come naturally
Posted on 09/30/2005 11:05:52 PM PDT by DeweyCA
The brains of pathological liars have structural abnormalities that could make fibbing come naturally.
Some people have an edge up on others in their ability to tell lies, says Adrian Raine, a psychologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. They are better wired for the complex computations involved in sophisticated lies.
He found that pathological liars have on average more white matter in their prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that is active during lying, and less grey matter than people who are not serial fibbers. White matter enables quick, complex thinking while grey matter mediates inhibitions.
Raine says the combination of extra white matter and less grey matter could be giving people exactly the right mix of traits to make them into good liars. These are the first biological differences to be discovered between pathological liars and the general population. Systematic manipulation
Other researchers have used brain imaging to show that the prefrontal cortex is more active when ordinary people tell lies. They are looking for ways to use this as an alternative to the polygraph test.
But pathological liars are a distinct group who systematically manipulate others, lie or use aliases for financial gain or personal pleasure, such as to get sickness benefits or to skip work. Its almost like a livelihood, says Raine.
Until now no one has looked at the structure of the brains of this particular group, says psychologist Maureen OSullivan of the University of San Francisco in California, who specialises in lying and truthfulness.
Raine interviewed 108 volunteers from five temporary employment agencies in Los Angeles and set them standard psychopathic tests. This allowed him to identify 12 as pathological liars, 16 as people with a personality disorder but who did not exhibit pathological lying and 21 as controls, who were neither anti-social, nor liars. White matter
Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), he scanned the brains of all three groups and found that liars had 26% more white matter compared with anti-social, non-liars, and 22% more than the controls. Liars also had 14% less grey matter than the controls.
Responsible for information transmission, white matter is composed of nerve fibres or axons that connect nerve cells or neurons to each other. Raine believes that having more white matter makes people better at the complex process of lying, which involves manipulation, thinking ahead and multi-tasking.
Its a bit like being a mind reader. You have to think, what does she know about the situation, what does she not know, he says. You also have to suppress anxious emotions and the automatic impulse to tell the truth. Austistic children, who find it very difficult to lie, develop white matter at a sixth the rate of ordinary children.
Grey matter mostly comprises the cell bodies of neurons, which process information. Previous studies have shown that people with less grey matter tend to break more rules and care less about moral transgressions, says Raine. Simple lies
This is a very interesting study, says OSullivan. But she warns that more data is needed. We dont know whether they are good liars, all we know is they lie a lot, she explains.
Psychologist Bella DePaulo at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who studies deception, also found the study intriguing but points out that not all lies are more complex than truths, nor do they necessarily require more inhibition.
People who know that their fabricated stories may be challenged will sometimes practise telling their false tales. After a while, the made-up story may come to mind more readily than the true one, she says.
British Journal of Psychiatry (October 2005)
A scientific explanation for imams.
I think this should be a "top" down study, start with the politicians, then the tenured professors at all the great universities. Judges/lawyers. Imagine how much "white" matter could be found at the top.
Quotes from my all-time favorite accomplished liar:
"Vandelay Industries, is uh. 129 West 81st street. It's a very small industry Vandelay. It's one of the reasons I wanted to uh, work for them."
"Yes, this is a business office, but I'm not a businessman per se. I'm here working for the people. I'm causing dissent, stirring the pot, getting people to question the whole rotten system."
"Algae, obviously plankton, I don't know what else I can tell you, Oh I just got back from a trip to the Galapagos Islands, I was living with the turtles."
"I'm an architect. Have you seen the new addition to the Guggenheim?"
"The Human Fund: Money for People"
I think that there might be some oversimplification on Prof Raines' part.
Pathological prevarication probably has many causes; and, a subset of socicopathological behavior (aka the Clinton syndrome) is one of the more well-established.
With apologies to any shrinks in F.R., psychological research sometimes has a reputation of lacking scientific rigor.
Well ... that explains all the white stuff on top of Bill Clinton's head.
"Liars think all men are fools who do not possess the divine art of lying." - Casanova
Besides Toon and the Beast, there is ANSWER, Cindy Sheehan, and Air America. And the MSM.
"Always tell the truth and you don't have to remember anything!" -- Mark Twain
Raine interviewed 108 volunteers from five temporary employment agencies in Los Angeles and set them standard psychopathic tests. This allowed him to identify 12 as pathological liars, 16 as people with a personality disorder but who did not exhibit pathological lying and 21 as controls, who were neither anti-social, nor liars.
What this means: Based on this representative sample from five different agencies, 11% of temporary workers in L.A. are pathological liars and another 15% have other kinds of personality disorders.
In other words, about one out of four temps in L.A. have diagnosable personality disorders -- a serious psychiatric condition.
Whatever the case may be regarding the brains of pathological liars, that's an interesting statistic to know.
Meanwhile, I would expect Bill Clinton to hold all calls from USC right about now...
Wow, Jeff Gordon. I met you in a doller store in Oklahoma a few weeks ago. Do you remember me? :)
Deposition in the Jones sexual harassment lawsuit
"Q. Did you have an extramarital sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky?
January 22, 1998
At White House photo opportunity with Yaser Arafat
"Let me say, first of all, I want to reiterate what I said yesterday. The allegations are false and I would never ask anybody to do anything other than tell the truth."
January 26, 1998
At White House news conference on education
"I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."
August 17, 1998
Nationally televised speech
"Indeed, I did have a relationship with Ms. Lewinsky that was not appropriate."
- George, in "The Pie"
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