Two companies planning to market the first lie-detecting devices that use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) assert that the new tests can spot liars with 90 percent accuracy, says USA Today. No Lie MRI plans to begin offering brain-based lie-detector tests in Philadelphia this summer, says Joel Huizenga, founder of the San Diego-based start-up. Cephos Corp. of Pepperell, Mass., will offer a similar service later this year using MRI machines at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston.
Both rely in part on recent research funded by the federal government aimed at producing a foolproof method of detecting deception. The new devices differ from polygraphs in key ways. The polygraph detects stress brought on by telling a lie. The MRI-based devices purport to measure the lie itself, and not changes in breathing and pulse rate brought on by lying or by some other cause. Potential customers: law enforcement, accused persons, spouses under suspicion and job applicants. Huizenga says a 1988 law that bars private employers from giving polygraphs to potential employees appears not to apply to MRI tests. No Lie MRI plans to charge $30 a minute to use its device. “They are going to be deployed to read people’s thoughts,” says Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Little if any attention has been paid to potential misuse and the devastating impact it would have on our civil liberties.”