Nikhil Kotecha

Exploring Deception Using Brain Imaging

In most deception experiments, the situation presented to human subjects in unrealistic, lacking a social dimension, unreflective of the emotionally charged nature of a lie, and does not possess a valid paradigm to assess intention. By incorporating economic games informed by neuroscience modalities, the necessary context can be established to rectify the aforementioned flaws. With accurate monitoring of the subject populations in the economic game, the subjects reactions and behavior can be used in functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to provide the needed realistic element to deception research.
It would be important and fascinating to discover the neural basis for the extent, emotional foundation, and intention behind lying. There are a number of questions to test: How sensitive to personal gain are people when deciding to lie? To what extent do people care about the losing partys loss? What role does emotion play in the calculation to lie?
Delving into the brain imaging data expected, the differences between the lie and truth conditions delineated in earlier studies show activation in varying regions in the brain, namely the lateral prefrontal, inferior parietal and anterior cingulate cortices, providing grounds for the common neural mechanism of deception. Given these expected results, and other research indicating increased activation in the brain upon suppression of emotion, the hypothesis is with the economic game providing validity, the depth of deception and emotional foundation of the lie can be observed accurately in an fMRI scan.

Message to Sponsor

To conduct research over the summer is a tremendous gift for which I am very appreciative. My sincere gratitude goes to the SURF L&S organization and the JSB Fund donors for this opportunity, and to my mentor Dr. Ming Hsu for his advice and help. This fellowship provides the prospect of furthering my development as researcher, and I look forward to giving it my all.
  • Major: Economics
  • Sponsor: JSB
  • Mentor: Ming Hsu, Haas School of Business