Does the inferior frontal sulcus play a functional role in deception? A neuronavigated theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation study

B. Verschuere*, T. Schuhmann, A.T. Sack

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


By definition, lying involves withholding the truth. Response inhibition may therefore be the cognitive function at the heart of deception. Neuroimaging research has shown that the same brain region that is activated during response inhibition tasks, namely the inferior frontal region, is also activated during deception paradigms. This led to the hypothesis that the inferior frontal region is the neural substrate critically involved in withholding the truth. In the present study, we critically examine the functional necessity of the inferior frontal region in withholding the truth during deception. We experimentally manipulated the neural activity level in right inferior frontal sulcus (IFS) by means of neuronavigated continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS). Individual structural magnetic resonance brain images (MRI) were used to allow precise stimulation in each participant. Twenty-six participants answered autobiographical questions truthfully or deceptively before and after sham and real cTBS. Deception was reliably associated with more errors, longer and more variable response times than truth telling. Despite the potential role of IFS in deception as suggested by neuroimaging data, the cTBS-induced disruption of right IFS did not affect response times or error rates, when compared to sham stimulation. The present findings do not support the hypothesis that the right IFS is critically involved in deception.

Original languageEnglish
Article number284
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Early online date18 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2012


  • FMRI
  • LIES
  • LOBE
  • MRI
  • deception
  • inferior frontal sulcus
  • response inhibition
  • theta-burst
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation

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