- Small lies desensitize the brain, leading to bigger lies, scientist says
- New research suggests ties between lying and the brain's amygdala
- Habituation may play a part in lying, but don't blame the amygdala, another source says
(CNN)The lies start small and then they grow. We've all seen this, in news reports, among our friends and family, in ourselves.
Understanding why people are dishonest is complicated. Theories about that have been the subject of psychology and sociology books.
But could there be a biological component at play? Recent research that focused on a specific region in our brains suggests there is.
"When we lie for personal gain, our amygdala produces a negative feeling that limits the extent to which we are prepared to lie," said Tali Sharot, an associate professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London. "However, this response fades as we continue to lie, and the more it (fades) the bigger our lies become."
A decreased amygdala response, in other words, may help explain the "slippery slope" of lying, said Sharot, one of the authors of "The Human Brain Adapts to Dishonesty," just published in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
When lying gets easier
The scientists involved in this research tapped Neurosynth, a platform that culls thousands of maps of brain activity, to identify parts of the brain associated with emotion.
While the amygdala, located deep in our temporal lobes, wasn't the exclusive region highlighted, it predominated, researchers said. So when the neuroscientists set out to look at how the brain changes while lying, they focused on that region.