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Neural correlates of deception: lying about past events and personal beliefs

Although a growing body of literature suggests that cognitive control processes are involved in deception, much about the neural correlates of lying remains unknown. In this study, we tested whether brain activation associated with deception, as measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), can be detected either in preparation for or during the execution of a lie, and whether they depend on the content of the lie. We scanned participants while they lied or told the truth about either their personal experiences (episodic memories) or personal beliefs. Regions in the frontal and parietal cortex showed higher activation when participants lied compared with when they were telling the truth, regardless of whether they were asked about their past experiences or opinions. In contrast, lie-related activation in the right temporal pole, precuneus and the right amygdala differed by the content of the lie. Preparing to lie activated parietal and frontal brain regions that were distinct from those activated while participants executed lies. Our findings concur with previous reports on the involvement of frontal and parietal regions in deception, but specify brain regions involved in the preparation vs execution of deception, and those involved in deceiving about experiences vs opinions. Continue reading “Neural correlates of deception: lying about past events and personal beliefs”

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Moral Deceptionists

Moral Deceptionists hold that in addition to making an untruthful statement with an intention to deceive, lying requires the violation of a moral right of another, or the moral wronging of another.

According to Chisholm and Feehan, every lie is a violation of the right of a hearer, since “It is assumed that, if a person x asserts a proposition p to another person y, then y has the right to expect that x himself believes p. And it is assumed that x knows, or at least that he ought to know, that, if he asserts p to y, while believing himself that p is not true, then he violates this right of y’s” (Chisholm and Feehan 1977, 153, [variables have been changed for uniformity]). Nevertheless, it is not part of their definition of lying that lying involves the violation of the right of another person. According to most philosophers, the claim that lying is (either defeasibly or non-defeasibly) morally wrong is “a synthetic judgment and not an analytic one” (Kemp and Sullivan 1993, 153). However, ‘lie’ is considered by some philosophers to be a thick ethical term that it both describes a type of action and morally evaluates that type of action negatively (Williams 1985, 140). For some philosophers, “the wrongfulness of lying is… built into the definition of the term” (Kemp and Sullivan 1993, 153). For these philosophers, the claim that lying is (either defeasibly or non-defeasibly) morally wrong is a tautology (Margolis 1962).

According to Hugo Grotius, it is part of the meaning of ‘lie’ when it is “strictly taken” that it involves “the Violation of a Real right” of the person lied to, namely, “the Freedom of him… to judge” (Grotius 2005, 1212). One can only lie to someone who possesses this right to exercise liberty of judgment. Grotius’s definition of lying is therefore as follows (modified accordingly):

  • (L10)To lie =df to make a believed-false statement to another person, with the intention that that other person believe that statement to be true (or believe that the statement is believed to be true, or both), violating that person’s right to exercise liberty of judgment. (Grotius 2005)

According to L10, one cannot lie to “Children or Madmen,” for example, since they lack the right of liberty of judgment (Grotius 2005, 1212). One cannot lie to someone who has given “express Consent” to be told untruths, since he has given up the right to exercise his liberty of judgment about these matters (Grotius 2005, 1214). One cannot lie to someone who by “tacit Consent” or presumed consent “founded upon just Reason” has given up the right to exercise his liberty of judgment about some matter, “on account of the Advantage, that he shall get by it,” such as when “a Person… comforts his sick Friend, by making him believe what is false,” since “no Wrong is done to him that is willing” (Grotius 2005, 1215–1217). Furthermore, “he who has an absolute Right over all the Rights of another,” is not lying when he “makes use of that Right, in telling something false, either for his particular Advantage, or for the publick Good” (Grotius 2005, 1216–1218). The right to exercise one’s liberty of judgment can also be taken away in cases “When the life of an innocent Person, or something equal to it,” is at stake, or when “the Execution of a dishonest Act be otherwise prevented” (Grotius 2005, 1221). In such a case, the person has forfeited his right, and “speaking falsely to those—like thieves—to whom truthfulness is not owed cannot be called lying” (Bok 1978, 14).

Alan Donagan also incorporates moral conditions into his definition of lying (modified to include cases in which speakers only intend to deceive about their beliefs):

  • (L11)To lie =df to freely make a believed-false statement to another fully responsible and rational person, with the intention that that other person believe that statement to be true [or the intention that that other person believe that that statement is believed to be true, or both]. (Donagan 1977)

According to L11, it is not possible to lie to “children, madmen, or those whose minds have been impaired by age or illness” (Donagan 1977, 89), since they are not fully responsible and rational persons. It is also not possible to lie to “a would-be murderer who threatens your life if you will not tell him where his quarry has gone” (Donagan 1977, 89), and in general when you are acting under duress in any way (such as a witness in fear of his life on the witness stand, or a victim being robbed by a thief), since statements made in such circumstances are not freely made.

It has been objected that these moral deceptionist definitions are unduly narrow and restrictive (Bok 1978). Surely, for example, it is possible to lie to a would-be murderer, whether it is impermissible, as some absolutist deontologists maintain (Augustine 1952; Aquinas 1972 (cf. MacIntyre 1995b); Kant 1996 (cf. Mahon 2006); Newman 1880; Geach 1977; Betz 1985; Pruss 1999; Tollefsen 2014), or permissible (i.e., either optional or obligatory), as consequentialists and moderate deontologists maintain (Constant 1964; Mill 1863; Sidgwick 1981; Bok 1978; MacIntyre 1995a; cf. Kagan 1998).

It has also been objected that these moral deceptionist definitions are morally lax (Kemp and Sullivan 1993, 158–9). By rendering certain deceptive untruthful statements to others as non-lies, they make it permissible to act in a way that would otherwise be open to moral censure. In general, even those philosophers who hold that all lies have an inherent negative weight, albeit such that it can be overridden, and hence, who hold that lying is defeasibly morally wrong, do not incorporate moral necessary conditions into their definitions of lying (Bok 1978; Kupfer 1982; cf. Wiles 1988). Continue reading “Moral Deceptionists”

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Where in the Brain Does Lying Occur?

In a meta-analysis that focused on single episodes of lying about past experiences, Christ et al.10 identified a significant overlap in brain regions serving executive function and working memory, suggesting lying may be a function of the executive control system, although the degree of involvement was not yet known. Later studies showed that high burdens on working memory activated the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, middle frontal gyrus, precuneus, and intraparietal cortex, whereas lying activated the middle and superior frontal gyrus and precuneus. The overlapping region of the middle frontal gyrus was therefore suggested as a neural marker for successful lying.4

In a similar vein, a 2015 investigation by Ofen et al3 showed on functional magnetic resonance imaging that the frontal and parietal cortex of participants were activated in patterns that differed during the preparation and execution phases of telling of a lie. This same study also observed that variations in activation correlated to the content of the lie itself: the right temporal pole was activated more frequently in lies about episodic content (memories), whereas the precuneus was activated more frequently in lies about personal beliefs.3 Continue reading “Where in the Brain Does Lying Occur?”

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When Patients Are Pathological Liars: Implications For Psychiatrists

Recent examinations have concluded that lying takes work. The concept that lying is more cognitively draining than telling the truth has long been publicly believed, but in recent years it has found considerable support in clinical studies.2-4 The Activation-Decision-Construction-Action Theory proposes 4 sequential steps in the process of lying2,5:

  1. accessing and activation of information from long-term memory,
  2. making the decision to lie,
  3. constructing a falsehood in context with real information, and
  4. expressing the lie in a manner intended to persuade the listener of its truth.

All these features contribute individually and in totality to the cognitive costs of lying. Liu and colleagues2 showed that lie construction is especially taxing on working memory by using a deception task model to quantify the burden. Participants asked to lie during a high-load task had significantly lower retention measured by contralateral delay activity amplitude (which directly tracks the amount of information stored in working memory). When a low-load task was performed, there was sufficient working memory for the task while lying without decreasing contralateral delay activity, even compared with telling the truth. Both findings suggest lying competes with normal information storage and processing.2

Several methods for increasing cognitive load have proved effective as lie detection aids, including requiring continuous eye contact, asking irrelevant and distracting questions, and asking subjects to relay events in reverse order.6-8 The result of working memory overtaxation is an observable delay in response time and reduced accuracy in execution of the task.2,9 Continue reading “When Patients Are Pathological Liars: Implications For Psychiatrists”

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Lying in Therapy: When, Why, and What to Do About It

Lying, distortions, and fibbing are complex human behaviors known to exist within a number of interpersonal contexts, but therapists often underestimate the degree to which dishonesty presents in

Source: Lying in Therapy: When, Why, and What to Do About It

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Improving Mood with Psychoanalytic and Cognitive Therapies – My Experience (IMPACT-ME)

The IMPACT study is a large clinical trial of psychological treatment for adolescent depression. IMPACT-My Experience (IMPACT-ME) is drawing on this unique opportunity to explore the experience of young people and families taking part in the trial.IMPACT-ME is a qualitative, longitudinal study following up a sub-sample of families involved in IMPACT. IMPACT-ME involves qualitative interviews with young people and parents at three time points: before treatment begins, at the end of treatment and at one-year follow-up. At the end of therapy, the therapists are also interviewed.

IMPACT-ME aims to explore the process of overcoming severe depression as experienced by adolescents and their families receiving psychological therapies. We are including the perspectives of adolescents, families and therapists in order to gain a better understanding of the process of overcoming depression and what factors help or hinder recovery.

A total of 138 families across North London, the North West and East Anglia have participated in IMPACT-ME at the pre-treatment phase. The families in North London will also take part in the follow-up interviews, which we are currently conducting. The data will be analysed using Framework Analysis, which is a methodical and rigorous approach to qualitative analysis.

By developing a model for understanding the young person’s journey out of depression and the role of the family and mental health services, we can understand how best to support the needs of young people. Including the perspectives of young people, families and therapists will help us to understand treatments needed for different people, and to modify treatment according to the needs of the client. We can also gain an insight into the experience of clients who are dissatisfied with therapy, have dropped out or have not achieved a good outcome. Continue reading “Improving Mood with Psychoanalytic and Cognitive Therapies – My Experience (IMPACT-ME)”

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The Parental Reflective Functioning Questionnaire (PRFQ)

Mentalizing, or reflective functioning, refers to the capacity to understand ourselves and others as motivated by intentional mental states, such as feelings, desires, wishes, goals and attitudes [1] . Mentalizing is an essential capacity to successfully navigate the social world. Impairments in mentalizing have been shown to be implicated in a wide variety of disorders and behavioural problems, ranging from psychosis to personality disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and conduct disorder [1].

Parental reflective functioning (PRF) refers to the caregiver’s capacity to reflect upon his/her own internal mental experiences as well as those of the child [2] [3]. PRF is assumed to play a key role in fostering the developing infant’s own capacity for mentalizing, which in turn is important for the development of emotion regulation, a sense of personal agency, and secure attachment relationships [2] [4] [5]. The development of mentalizing is thought to depend largely on the extent to which the infant’s subjective experiences have been adequately mirrored by a trusted other, and thus PRF is likely to be an important factor influencing the development of mentalizing in children and young people.

There is increasing evidence for the effectiveness in both adults and young people of intervention programmes that are rooted in the mentalizing approach [1], and a focus on improving mentalizing may be a common factor in all effective psychosocial interventions [6]. A number of interventions have also been shown to increase parental reflective functioning specifically [7] [8] [9]. Continue reading “The Parental Reflective Functioning Questionnaire (PRFQ)”

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Rule of Adulthood