Neuroethics Publications

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version



Detection of deception and confirmation of truth telling with conventional polygraphy raised a host of technical and ethical issues. Recently, newer methods of recording electromagnetic signals from the brain show promise in permitting the detection of deception or truth telling. Some are even being promoted as more accurate than conventional polygraphy. While the new technologies raise issues of personal privacy, acceptable forensic application, and other social issues, the focus of this paper is the technical limitations of the developing technology. Those limitations include the measurement validity of the new technologies, which remains largely unknown. Another set of questions pertains to the psychological paradigms used to model or constrain the target behavior. Finally, there is little standardization in the field, and the vulnerability of the techniques to countermeasures is unknown. Premature application of these technologies outside of research settings should be resisted, and the social conversation about the appropriate parameters of its civil, forensic, and security use should begin.


Postprint version. Published in American Journal of Bioethics, Volume 5, Issue 2, March-April 2005, pages 39-49.
Publisher URL:


Brain Imaging, Lie Detection, neuroethics, Privacy, confidentiality



Date Posted: 04 April 2006

This document has been peer reviewed.