The Future of Neuroimaged Lie Detection and the Law

17 Pages Posted: 30 Jul 2009 Last revised: 27 Feb 2014

See all articles by Joelle Anne Moreno

Joelle Anne Moreno

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law

Date Written: 2009


Neuroscience will certainly change law. In fact, neuroscience research has the potential to influence a vast range of legal decisions. To the extent that neuroscientists increasingly make claims that neuroimaging reveals cognition, even the most unimaginative prognosticator might predict: (1) the preliminary investigative use of neuroimages to enhance witness interviews and police interrogations (including but not limited to lie-detection), (2) jury selection based on neuroimages that appear to reveal jurors' unconscious stereotypes or biases, and (3) arguments about intent or sentencing based on neuroimage-enhanced explanations of behavior and predictions of dangerousness. In anticipation of a brave new world of neuroscience 'enhanced' law, this Article suggests that if we want to predict or control future social and legal responses to cognitive neuroscience research, we must carefully and explicitly consider two basic preexisting realities: (1) our shared assumptions about the validity of the medical field of neuroscience and the accuracy of diagnostic neuroimaging technologies; and (2) our increasingly frequent exposure (even within the mainstream media) to uncritical reports of cognitive neuroscience research that purports to correlate brain activity with cognition, deception,or social behavior. The risk, is that if we ignore these realities, judges, jurors, and the general public will likely view all or most neuroscience-based evidence as legitimate 'hard' science because researchers rely on technologically sophisticated neuroimaging tools of demonstrated accuracy. The problem is that judges and jurors will mistakenly assume that technologies that are demonstrably valid medical diagnostic tools yield equally valid conclusions when they are used to map the neural correlates of deception and other forms of cognition.

Keywords: Future Attribute Screening Technology, FAST, FAST M2, malintent, cognitive neuroscience, evidence, court, law, lie detection, brain scan images

Suggested Citation

Moreno, Joelle Anne, The Future of Neuroimaged Lie Detection and the Law (2009). Akron Law Review, Vol. 42, pp. 717-734, 2009, Florida International University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-06, Available at SSRN:

Joelle Anne Moreno (Contact Author)

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law ( email )

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