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Telling small lies desensitises our brains to the associated negative emotions and may encourage us to tell bigger lies in future, reveals new UCL research funded by Wellcome and the Center for Advanced Hindsight.
The research, published in Nature Neuroscience, provides the first empirical evidence that self-serving lies gradually escalate and reveals how this happens in our brains.
The team scanned volunteers' brains while they took part in tasks where they could lie for personal gain. They found that the amygdala, a part of the brain associated with emotion, was most active when people first lied for personal gain. The amygdala's response to lying declined with every lie while the magnitude of the lies escalated. Crucially, the researchers found that larger drops in amygdala activity predicted bigger lies in future./.../
Dr Raliza Stoyanova, Senior Portfolio Developer, in the Neuroscience and Mental Health team at Wellcome, said: "This is a very interesting first look at the brain's response to repeated and increasing acts of dishonesty. Future work would be needed to tease out more precisely whether these acts of dishonesty are indeed linked to a blunted emotional response, and whether escalations in other types of behaviour would have the same effect."
University College London. "How lying takes our brains down a 'slippery slope': Telling small lies desensitizes our brains to the associated negative emotions and may encourage us to tell bigger lies in future." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2016. .