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Liars’ Brains

November 3, 2005

A difference in the brains of pathological liars may be the cause of their strange behavior.


Inside the brains of liars. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Certain brain abnormalities may lay the groundwork for becoming a pathological liar. This according to Adrian Raine, a psychologist at the University of Southern California. He and his colleagues found that compared with normal people, pathological liars’ brains had 22 percent more white matter and 14 percent less grey matter.

So why does that matter? Raine explains that the white matter is like telephone cable, connecting different parts of the brain together, which enables complex thinking.

ADRIAN RAINE (University of Southern California):
The grey matter is involved in inhibiting, controlling, and regulating behavior. It’s a bit like the emergency brake on our antisocial, aggressive behavior.

So having more white and less grey matter may make it easier to concoct elaborate lies without remorse. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.