December 09, 2009
Promise Breakers Found Via Brain Scans

Some day you won't be able to escape into the privacy of your own mind.

Despite the ubiquity of promises in human life, we know very little about the brain physiological mechanisms underlying this phenomenon. In order to increase understanding in this area, neuroscientist Thomas Baumgartner (University of Zurich) and economists Ernst Fehr (University of Zurich) and Urs Fischbacher (University of Konstanz) carried out a social interaction experiment in a brain scanner where the breach of a promise led both to monetary benefits for the promise breaker and to monetary costs for the interaction partner. The results of the study show that increased activity in areas of the brain playing an important role in processes of emotion and control accompany the breach of a promise. This pattern of brain activity suggests that breaking a promise triggers an emotional conflict in the promise breaker due to the suppression of an honest response.

Furthermore, the most important finding of the study enabled the researchers to show that "perfidious" patterns of brain activity even allow the prediction of future behavior. Indeed, experimental subjects who ultimately keep a promise and those who eventually break one act exactly the same at the time the promise is made both swear to keep their word. Brain activity at this stage, however, often exposes the subsequent promise breakers.

The ability to detect promising breaking is a subset of lie detection.

What I'm wondering: Can some people train with brain scanners to learn how to fool brain scanners to see seemingly honest behavior while a person really is deciding to deceive and break promises?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 December 09 08:35 PM  Brain Surveillance

Walter Ness said at April 4, 2010 12:59 PM:

Check out they teach how to activate neuropathways from inside the brain using a simple mediation technique.

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