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Advanced Imaging Magazine

Updated: January 12th, 2011 10:01 AM CDT

The Hidden Truth

Brain imaging may become ultimate lie-detector test
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By Barry Hochfelder

We've all seen the movie or TV show where the bad guy or even the falsely accused good guy says, "I'll take a lie-detector test!" Using a polygraph machine, the operator asks some questions and the suspect answers. The machine responds to physical reactions based on the suspect's emotions and measures bodily reactions that, ostensibly, the respondent can't control such as skin conductivity and heart rate.

In this month's lead story, contributing editor Lee Nelson looks into functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which can visualize changes in the living brain. Human cortical processes can be seen directly: more oxygenated blood in a particular region correlates with greater activity, allowing researchers to associate those observations with the subject's distinct thoughts and behaviors.

Why? Because, as Professor Ruben Gur, Director of the Brain-Behavior Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine says, functional brain imaging substantiates that "...truth is always simpler. To make a lie, you have to know what is true and you have to distort it. That is extra work that goes into lying." And that effort causes a change in heart rate, respiration and perspiration.

Lee's story takes a look at the technology and the efforts that a number of researchers are making to "read our brains." It's fascinating. And a little frightening.

This issue also includes our popular Optics Technology Report. We take a look at two disparate subjects: digital holography and liquid lens technology. According toYan Li, a doctoral student at Liverpool John Moores University, and two of her professors, digital holography offers not only great potential for fast, accurate, full-3D capture and display of objects, but also their quantitative measurement. It can be performed in nearly real time.

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