Studies have shown increased bilateral activation in the prefrontal cortex when normal individuals lie, but there have been no structural imaging studies of deceitful individuals.
To assess whether deceitful individuals show structural abnormalities in prefrontal grey and white matter volume.
Prefrontal grey and white matter volumes were assessed using structural magnetic resonance imaging in 12 individuals who pathologically lie, cheat and deceive (‘liars’), 16 antisocial controls and 21 normal controls.
Liars showed a 22–26% increase in prefrontal white matter and a 36–42% reduction in prefrontal grey/white ratios compared with both antisocial controls and normal controls.
ConclusionsThese findings provide the first evidence of a structural brain deficit in liars, they implicate the prefrontal cortex as an important (but not sole) component in the neural circuitry underlying lying and provide an initial neurobiological correlate of a deceitful personality.