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No kidding

New brain scanners claim to distinguish truth from lies. Should we trust them?

By Ian Leslie   October 2009

A murder case in India last year attracted unusual scientific attention. A 24-year-old woman called Aditi Sharma was accused of killing her former fiancé, Udit Bharati. Aditi had married another man, but she had met Udit at a McDonald’s, where she allegedly laced his food with arsenic.

After she was arrested, Aditi agreed to take a brain-scanning test to prove her innocence. Investigators placed 32 electrodes on her head, before reading the allegations to her in the first person—“I bought arsenic”; “I met Udit at McDonald’s”—along with neutral statements like “The sky is blue.” Adit failed the test—according to prosecutors,…

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