Unfolding the spatial and temporal neural processing of lying about face familiarity

Delin SUN, Tatia M.C. LEE, Che Hin Chetwyn CHAN

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34 Citations (Scopus)


To understand the neural processing underpinnings of deception, this study employed both neuroimaging (functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI) and neurophysiological (event-related potential, ERP) methodologies to examine the temporal and spatial coupling of the neural correlates and processes that occur when one lies about face familiarity. This was performed using simple directed lying tasks. According to cues provided by the researchers, the 17 participants were required to respond truthfully or with lies to a series of faces. The findings confirmed that lie and truth conditions are associated with different fMRI activations in the ventrolateral, dorsolateral, and dorsal medial-frontal cortices; premotor cortex, and inferior parietal gyrus. They are also associated with different amplitudes within the time interval between 300 and 1000 ms post face stimulus, after the initiation (270 ms) of face familiarity processing. These results support the cognitive model that suggests representations of truthful information are first aroused and then manipulated during deception. Stronger fMRI activations at the left inferior frontal gyrus and more positive-going ERP amplitudes within [1765, 1800] ms were observed in the contrast between lie and truth for familiar than for unfamiliar faces. The fMRI and ERP findings, together with ERP source reconstruction, clearly delineate the neural processing of face familiarity deception. Copyright © 2013 The Author.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)927-936
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number4
Early online dateOct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


Sun, D., Lee, T. M. C., & Chan, C. C. H. (2015). Unfolding the spatial and temporal neural processing of lying about face familiarity. Cerebral Cortex, 25(4), 927-936. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht284


  • Deception
  • ERP
  • Face familiarity
  • fMRI
  • Source reconstruction


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