MRI Tests As Lie Detectors? Maryland Judge Says No, For Now


Some of the nation's leading neuroscientists say that MRI tests of the brain can show when someone is being deceptive. Many experts doubt whether the technology is ready for the real world, and judges have kept it out of the courtroom, reports the Washington Post. Over three days, Montgomery County, Md., Judge Eric Johnson allowed pretrial testimony about what he called the “absolutely fascinating” issues involved, from the minutiae of brain analysis to the nature of truth and lies. He decided jurors can't see MRI testing on Gary Smith, who is charged with killing his roommate.

“There have been some discoveries that deception may be able to be detected,” Johnson said, but added there's no consensus the results can be trusted. “These are brilliant people, and they don't agree.” Researchers and legal experts can envision a time when brain scans are used as lie detectors. Standard polygraphs are generally not admitted in trials because some consider them flawed. Smith attorney Andrew Jezic argued in court that the MRI test should be allowed. Prosecutors hate the idea, saying that replacing living suspects with a stack of colorful brain images would upend the legal system.

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