November 11, 2005
Electrogastrogram On Stomach Can Catch Liars

Lies show up in your stomach.

HONOLULU, October 31, 2005 -- A new study suggests that changes in gastric physiology perform better than standard polygraph methods in distinguishing between lying and telling the truth. The University of Texas study, released today at the 70th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, demonstrates a clear link between the act of lying and a significant increase in gastric arrhythmia.

To test their hypothesis that the gastrointestinal tract is uniquely sensitive to mental stress because of the communication between the central nervous system and the enteric nervous system, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch recruited sixteen healthy volunteers to undergo simultaneous electrogastrogram (EGG) and electrocardiogram (EKG) recordings for three periods.

The researchers found that both lying and truth telling affected cardiac symptoms, while the act of lying was also associated with gastric symptoms. The EGG showed a significant decrease in the percentage of normal gastric slow waves when the subject was lying that corresponded to a significant increase in the average heart rate during the same situation.

"We concluded that the addition of the EGG to standard polygraph methods has clear value in improving the accuracy of current lie detectors," said Pankaj Pasricha, MD, University of Texas Medical Branch. "The communication between the big brain and the little brain in the stomach can be complex and merits further study."

The study started out as a high school science fair project.

Pasricha emphasises that the test will be an addition, not a replacement, for today’s polygraph devices – and only after further research involving hundreds more test subjects.

The initial study only included 16 subjects because it began as Pasricha’s daughter’s high school science fair project in May 2005 – she won second prize.

Pasricha says he needs funding to use a large enough number of subjects to test out the reliability of this approach and he's hoping for a corporate sponsor. The FBI and CIA ought to take notice. The value of lie detection is high for criminal investigations and national security.

In the long run I we'll see the development of technologies that can make the body act like you are not lying. Imagine a drug, for example, that would stimulate gastric slow waves to mimic truth-telling. The problem with such a drug is that a subject of interrogation could be instructed to tell lies in response to certain questions and the monitoring equipment could detect that the gastric slow waves did not decrease. What's needed is an implant that would not be detected in an x-ray that would allow a person to dynamically adjust the stomach's response. Perhaps a person could control the response by wiggling a toe or moving a finger that has nanosensors embedded in it.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2005 November 11 11:24 AM  Surveillance Society

Lono said at November 12, 2005 10:07 AM:


This is just the kind of tech that my group needs to implement our ultimate plan!

Soon all that is secret shall be revealed!!!!


Carl Shulman said at November 12, 2005 10:18 AM:

Somehow I doubt that such a technology will ever exist, it seems to be the equivalent of a super-advanced vacuum-tube computer. We have four areas of technology to consider here:
1. Technology to spoof the signals detected by this gastric device/polygraphs.
2. Technology to conceal the spoofing.
3. Technology to defeat the concealment.
4. Neurotechnology to directly scan the brain for lying, rather than for indirect physiological correlates.

The device you describe would only be used if the effectioveness of #1 greatly outpaces #4, and #2 outpaces #3, and there are reasons for thinking that this will not be the case. An interrogator can take time and extensive external equipment to locate such an implant, and neurotech lie-detection is already proceeding apace. Indeed, neurotech could detect the mental activity directing the biosignal spoofing device.

Randall Parker said at November 12, 2005 10:50 AM:


The signals will not be spoofed. Real signals will get generated.

I figure the stomach must be getting signals from the brain that cause the wave form differences. Well, the brain is the place to generate the signals. When someone is lying they need nanocircuits in the brain to send override signals to the stomach. The nanocircuits can be much thinner than a blood vessel. They probably can be carbon-based. Good luck trying to detect them.

But suppose the presence of nanocircuits is detected in the brain via some testing technology. Now all you know is that you can't trust your lie detector that monitors the stomach. You can't make your lie detector work. You'd need a way to remove the nanocircuits.

The need to both detect and remove makes interrogation harder. Maybe you can lock up your subject for 5 or 10 years waiting for each technology to get developed. But if you need honest answers sooner than that the wait works against you.

Direct brain scanning: That might be defeatable with nanocircuits. A person could have a nanocircuit that feeds false memories for example.

Carl Shulman said at November 12, 2005 12:28 PM:

Yes, that's the sense of spoof I intended. All lie detection technologies will be based on the subject's belief that he is lying: ordinarily this belief will also cause physiological signals. The hypothetical implant blocks the secondary physiological consequences of the belief, but does nothing to change the underlying brain activity. Brain scanning goes directly to the target, and should thus supercede physiological measures as it develops. Given the promising results seen in recent years, I would expect the window of time before that happens is fairly short.

Within that window, the gastric technology requires no major new advances, while the implant does. So I would expect that for most of the time in which this technology is used (if at all) no countermeasures of the sort you describe will be produced. If they are developed, it will likely be on the eve of the switch to brain scanning by interrogators. What we *will* undoubtedly see is the use of biofeedback training to produce the same effect (the type of training used to defeat polygraphs today.)

On false memory implantation: this clearly defeats all lie-detection technologies. On the other hand, the level of understanding implied by teh ability to do such implanation surgically implies uploading and a situation in which interrogations are unrecognizable. For instance, suppose a terrorist is reprogrammed to believe that he does not support jihad in order to smuggle him across a border, and is then reprogrammed back to his original beliefs later. Given this ridiculous level of neurotechnology why not simply reprogram innocent bystanders into jihadists to begin with?

Daniel Rowland said at February 8, 2006 3:35 AM:

this is really the recent discovery of the 21st will do a great deal if this technology can also be implemented in some of the poverty stricken countries in africa.

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