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Recent Developments in Deception Research

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Lying and deception are common human activities and may occur in a wide variety of clinical contexts. These behaviours implicate higher neural systems within the brains of humans and other primates. Recent functional neuroimaging studies suggest that prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices are particularly engaged during certain forms of deception, hence, that executive processes support deceit. Congruent with the latter position is the finding that lies take longer to execute than truthful responses. To date, no functional neuroimaging study has demonstrated brain regions exhibiting greater activation during truth telling (compared with lying). Although the latter may reflect a Type II error, it also supports the hypothesis that truthfulness comprises a relative baseline in human cognition and communication. Those psychiatric disorders particularly associated with the practice of deception are varied both in aetiology and the degree to which deceit is central to their conceptualisation. Nevertheless, the deceiving human is likely to be engaging components of their cognitive executive system, a proposal with implications for societal notions of responsibility and mitigation. A successful lie denotes a functioning executive.
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Keywords: antisocial personality; deception; evolution; fmri; lying; malingering; munchausen syndrome; neurophysiology; psychiatry

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Academic Clinical Psychiatry, Division of Genomic Medicine, University of Sheffield, The Longley Centre, Norwood Grange Drive, Sheffield S5 7JT, UK.

Publication date: 2005-11-01

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  • Current Psychiatry Reviews publishes frontier reviews on all the latest advances on clinical psychiatry and its related areas e.g. pharmacology, epidemiology, clinical care, and therapy. The journal's aim is to publish the highest quality review articles dedicated to clinical research in the field. The journal is essential reading for all clinicians, psychiatrists and researchers in psychiatry.
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