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Spain through the looking glass

Granada scientists demonstrate Pinocchio effect

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Spanish scientists have proven the Pinocchio effect isn’t just the stuff of fables.

A team of psychology researchers working out of the University of Granada have used thermal imaging to show that tip of our nose changes temperature when we are lying. The investigators also found that lying activates the insular cortex, a  part of our brain which switches on when we experience feelings like pain or pleasure, but which doesn’t activate if we are telling the truth.

“The insular cortex is involved in the detection and regulation of body temperature and there is a large correlation between the activity of this structure and the amount of thermal change: the more activity there is in the insular cortex, the less thermal change is produced and vice versa,” the researchers said.

In other words, when we are telling the truth, we don’t switch on this part of the brain and the temperature of our nose doesn’t alter.

During their study, the team headed up by Emilio Gómez Milán and Elvira Salazar López from the university’s Department of Experimental Psychology also noticed the temperature of the orbital muscles in the corner of our eyes rises when we tell porkies.

The study – the first to use thermal imaging in psychological research – reveals that men and women both experience sexual excitement in the pectoral and genital areas. The Spanish investigators also learned that if people with very high levels of empathy watched someone receiving electric shocks to the forearm, their own forearms would rise in temperature.

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Written by georgemills25

November 23, 2012 at 16:56

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