Newswise — The law enforcement community and commercial interests express enthusiasm about the possibility of using brain imaging technologies to detect lying, in hope that it will do for polygraph tests what DNA sequencing did for fingerprinting. But many neuroscientists have doubts about the claims that functional MRI (fMRI) can reliably distinguish truth telling from lying, while other experts question the legal and ethical issues of using non-invasive brain imaging technology to "invade" a person's private thoughts. On February 2, 2007, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is hosting a symposium, "Is There Science Underlying Truth Detection," to examine these issues.

"There are some bold claims regarding the potential to use fMRI to detect deception, so it's important to learn what is known about the science," explained Emilio Bizzi, President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, who co-organized the symposium and who is also an MIT Institute Professor and an Investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT. "Is it possible or not possible? If it is possible, is it ethical and legal, or is it a violation of privacy?"

Bizzi will moderate one of two panel discussions during the symposium. That panel, "The Science and Imaging of Deception," will include presentations by Elizabeth Phelps, New York University; Marcus E. Raichle, Washington University School of Medicine; and Nancy Kanwisher, McGovern Institute at MIT. Panel two, "The Legal, Ethical, and Privacy Implications of Imaging," will be moderated by Steven Hyman, co-organizer of the symposium, who is Provost of Harvard University and Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. The panel will include Henry Greely, Stanford Law School; Stephen Morse, University of Pennsylvania; Jed Rakoff, United States District Court, District of New York; and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Dartmouth College.

The symposium is cosponsored by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, and Harvard University. The symposium will be held from 2-5 pm at the Academy headquarters at 136 Irving Street, Cambridge, MA. The event is free, but advanced registration is required. Register by calling (617) 576-5032 or by emailing

About the McGovern Institute at MIT

The McGovern Institute at MIT is a neuroscience research institute committed to improving human welfare and advancing communications. Led by a team of world-renowned, multi-disciplinary neuroscientists, The McGovern Institute was established in February 2000 by Lore Harp McGovern and Patrick J. McGovern to meet one of the great challenges of modern science - the development of a deep understanding of thought and emotion in terms of their realization in the human brain. Additional information is available at:

About the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy's elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business and public affairs. For further information visit

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