A USC study has found the first proof of structural brain abnormalities in people who habitually lie, cheat and manipulate others. The research—led by Yaling Yang and Adrian Raine—is published in the October issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.
The researchers used Magnetic Resonance Imaging to explore structural brain differences between liars and non-liars. The liars had significantly more “white matter” and slightly less “gray matter” than those they were measured against, Raine said. Specifically, liars had a 25.7 percent increase in prefrontal white matter compared to the antisocial controls and a 22 percent increase compared to the normal controls. Liars had a 14.2 percent decrease in prefrontal gray matter compared to normal controls.
More white matter—the wiring in the brain—may provide liars with the tools necessary to master the complex art of deceit, Raine said.
“Lying takes a lot of effort,” he said.
“It’s almost mind reading. You have to be able to understand the mindset of the other person. You also have to suppress your emotions or regulate them because you don’t want to appear nervous. There’s quite a lot to do there. You’ve got to suppress the truth.
“Our argument is that the more networking there is in the prefrontal cortex, the more the person has an upper hand in lying. Their verbal skills are higher. They’ve almost got a natural advantage.”
Sources: USC News, The Other Side