A federal judge in Tennessee just ruled that fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) can not be used to detect lies. Not yet at least. The case in point was one in which the defense was attempting to prove their client had not defrauded Medicare. They were attempting to enter fMRI brain scans of the defendant to prove he was not lying. fMRI actually shows hemodynamic activity within the body — the change in blood flow. The idea here is that activity, or conversely, no activity in the brain is proof of a person telling the truth or lying. Interesting stuff.
The judge followed legal precedent and elements of the Daubert Standard in his ruling. He basically said the technology does not meet legal or scientific standards at this point. There may come a day, but for now MRIs can only be used for medical imaging diagnostics, not evidence of veracity in court.
This, of course brings up a follow-on question. How long until a creative attorney attempts to enter fMRI scans of his or her client’s heart to prove that he or she had indeed not been cheating? A new twist on the “cheating heart” defense.