We all live our lives with truth in the forefront of our mind and – according to scientists – lying at the front of our prefrontal cortex. And now that this very region is being studied by Estonian scientists, they’re starting to find that the brain can be interfered with using stimulation of an electromagnetic nature. And if Congress has anything to say on the matter, they have fallen strangely silent.
Transcranial stimulation has been a subject of scrutiny for neurologists who are hoping to find a less chemically oriented way to combat conditions such as autism. And if the success of recent experiments is any indicator, there may actually be a bright future in the field. Inga Karton and Talis Bachmann have revealed the results of their study where 16 volunteers had their brains stimulated via transcranial magnetic stimulation and found that the subjects were far less likely to lie or be able to lie if certain regions of the brain were stimulated. In another experiment the stimulation was applied to a different region of the brain and the results indicated there was no change in their ability to lie whatsoever.
So if we have found the single part of the brain that must be interfered with in order to get a straight answer, then perhaps we are looking at the start of a whole new society. Set phasers to truth.
Of course before we jump the gun, similar promises were made with the invention of the polygraph and then again with sodium pentathol (AKA truth serum) to determine the truthfulness of a subject and coerce unwilling subjects into honesty. These early experiments were used by both the FBI and the CIA during the Cold War, but with varying results. Lie detectors can detect a specific type of lie unless the subject is either in a state far removed from the situation (which historically is not uncommon during interrogation) or are trained to deceive a lie detector. Of course the first people to be trained to lie to lie detectors were those who the CIA were looking for. Soon organized criminal syndicates followed suite making the polygraph a dubious artifact for evidence – often not even accepted in courts in the United States.
But the stimulation of the brain works a bit differently. As the brain is arranged much like the rest of the body, certain activities appear to follow certain patterns. The soul may not have any single hiding spot in the human brain, but it certainly seems to vacation in some hemispheres in order to accomplish tasks.
Of course as with other forms of neurological mapping, this too comes with its downside. If the stimulation is applied to this region of the brain, it seems this is also a place where decision making happens. While under its effects a subject would find it more difficult to make decisions and therefore would be responding based on pre-existing automatic impulses.
And the experiment has other problems as well – though ones that can be remedied fairly quickly. With a sample size of only 16 subjects, researchers will likely have to conduct several more experiments before the “truth beam” becomes fact.