Amygdala activation when one is the target of deceit: Did he lie to you or to someone else?

J. Grèzes, S. Berthoz, R.E. Passingham
NeuroImage. 2006-04-01; 30(2): 601-608
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.09.038

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1. Neuroimage. 2006 Apr 1;30(2):601-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.09.038.
Epub 2005 Oct 27.

Amygdala activation when one is the target of deceit: did he lie to you or to
someone else?

Grèzes J(1), Berthoz S, Passingham RE.

Author information:
(1)Laboratoire de Physiologie de la Perception et de l’Action (LPPA), CNRS-
Collège de France, 11 Place Marcelin Berthelot, 75005 Paris, France.

The ability to figure out whether a person is being honest or deceitful is an
important part of social competence. Reactions to deceit may however differ
depending on whether one is being deceived oneself or observes a deceitful
exchange between others. In the present study, we investigated whether personal
involvement influenced the neural responses associated with the detection of
deceit. Subjects watched videos of actors lifting a box and judged whether the
actors had been misled about the real weight of the box. Personal involvement
was manipulated by having the participants themselves among the actors. The
critical finding was that there was activity in amygdala and fusiform gyrus only
for the condition in which participants observed themselves being deceived. In
contrast, the superior temporal sulcus and anterior cingulate cortex were
activated irrespective of whether the participants detected that the
experimenter had deceived themselves or another. These four brain areas are all
interconnected and are part of the discrete neural system subserving social
cognition. Our results provide direct evidence, using judgments of deceit in a
social context, that the crucial factor for amygdala activation is the
involvement of the subjects because they are the target of the deceit. We
interpret the activation of the amygdala in this situation as reflecting the
greater affective reaction when one is deceived oneself. Our results suggest
that when one is personally involved, deceit is taken as a potential threat.

DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2005.09.038
PMID: 16257239 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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