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Functional magnetic resonance imaging could serve as lie-detector test in civil trial

UPDATE 05-06-10: The judge in this case has ruled to exclude fMRI evidence in the trial.


In a move that could have serious consequences for the future of neuroscience in court, an attorney in Brooklyn plans to introduce fMRI scans to prove that a key witness in an employer-retaliation case is being truthful.

If the brain scan is admitted, it would be a legal first in the United States, reports Wired Science:

General fMRI data from research has been used in sentencing, but an individual’s brain scan has yet to be entered as evidence in a civil or criminal trial to help the jury determine whether someone was telling the truth. Individual fMRI evidence was offered in at least one other case by a San Diego attorney defending a father accused of sexual abuse, but the evidence was eventually withdrawn and did not make it into the record.

Researchers in a small number of studies have shown brain scans can identify lying in subjects with an accuracy ranging between 76 percent to over 90 percent. However, scientific evidence for fMRI-based lie detection is still inconclusive, according to Time and The New Yorker.

Previously: Brain scan used in court in potential fMRI first

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