The cognitive mechanisms underlying deception: An event-related potential study

Kristina Suchotzi*, Geert Crombez, Fren T. Y. Smulders, Ewout Meijer, Bruno Verschuere

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

40 Citations (Web of Science)


The cognitive view on deception proposes that lying comes with a cognitive cost This view is supported by the finding that lying typically takes longer than truth telling. Event-related potentials (ERPs) provide a means to unravel the cognitive processes underlying this cost. Using a mock-crime design, the current study (n = 20) investigated the effects of deception on the Contingent Negative Variation (CNV), the Lateralized Readiness Potential (LRP), the Correct Response Negativity (CRN), and the stimulus-locked N200 and P300 components. In line with previous research, lying resulted in more errors, longer reaction times (RTs) and longer RT standard deviations compared to truthful responses. A marginally significant effect suggested a stronger CNV for the anticipation of lying compared to the anticipation of truth telling. There were no significant deception effects on the stimulusand the response-locked LRPs. Unexpectedly, we found a significantly larger CRN for truth telling compared to lying. Additional analyses revealed an enhanced N200 and a decreased P300 for lying compared to truth telling. Our results support the cognitive load hypothesis for lying, yet are mixed regarding the response conflict hypothesis. Results are discussed with regard to the specific characteristics of our design and their theoretical and applied implications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-405
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • Deception
  • ERP
  • Cognitive load
  • LRP
  • CNV
  • CRN

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