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See Inside February/March 2009

Building a Portrait of a Lie in the Brain

In search of a better lie detector, scientists are peering into the brain to probe the origins of deception



© iStockPhoto / Michel de Nijs

A young man steals across the hallway, slips through a door and scans the room. He opens a drawer, snatches a wristwatch inside and puts it in his pocket. Then he hurries out the door.

Sixty more people perform the same drill, half of them filching a watch and the others, a ring. Psychiatrist F. Andrew Kozel, now at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, and his colleagues promised to give a bonus payment to anyone who could conceal the deed from the scientists, who planned to look into their brains for signs of a cover-up.

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