Lie-Detecting MRI Used in Court

Brooklyn attorney David Zevin plans to submit an MRI scan as evidence in a sexual discrimination suit. This will mark the first time that a lie-detecting MRI has been used in a US court other than for the sentencing phase of a criminal trial:

So, Zevin had the coworker undergo an fMRI brain scan by the company Cephos, which claims to provide “independent, scientific validation that someone is telling the truth.”

Laboratory studies using fMRI, which measures blood-oxygen levels in the brain, have suggested that when someone lies, the brain sends more blood to the ventrolateral area of the prefrontal cortex. In a very small number of studies, researchers have identified lying in study subjects (.pdf) with accuracy ranging from 76 percent to over 90 percent. But some scientists and lawyers like New York University neuroscientist Elizabeth Phelps doubts those results can be applied outside the lab.

“The data in their studies don’t appear to be reliable enough to use in a court of law,” Phelps said. “There is just no reason to think that this is going to be a good measure of whether someone is telling the truth.

Link via Popular Science | Photo: NIH

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You're a day late on this news, it's already been rejected!

A judge in Brooklyn ruled to exclude fMRI evidence in an employer-retaliation case, delivering another blow to proponents of lie detection by brain scan.

The plaintiff’s attorney, David Zevin, confirmed that his side lost the battle. “The issue is dead in this case, at least until a possible appeal,”
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