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MRI as lie detector? Could happen

A number of different researchers are pursuing the idea of using MRI machines as lie detectors.

How does it work? Remember that polygraphs track only emotional indicators and that skilled equivocators can fool such devices. A brain scan using a magnetic resonance imaging can track the flow of blood into certain areas of the brain and, therefore, better prove that a lie is being told. Studies done in the past few years have found that certain areas of the brain are activated when the person is telling a lie but not at other times. Such MRIs could track use of these areas of the brain and, theoretically, “prove” that someone is lying.

One company pursuing research in this area is Cephos, a Massachusetts company that is being advised by former O.J. Simpson attorney Shapiro.

“I’d use it tomorrow in virtually every criminal and civil case on my desk,” Shapiro said.

Others, however, aren’t so quick to get on the bandwagon. Some people worry that such techniques are invasive of a person’s privacy. Other people caution that MRI results can be fooled as well and that the MRI process is not perfect.

The idea is not a new one, but the renewed focus is new and the advent of companies springing up solely to pursue such research is also new.

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