When someone repeatedly lies, they stop having an emotional response to their own falsehoods. Thus, and before a total absence of feelings this practice becomes easier and becomes a habitual resource. That's why neurologists have come to the conclusion that a liar's brain works differently: they are skilfully trained minds for that purpose.
If there is something that characterizes the human brain is its plasticity, we know it. Therefore, we will not be surprised to know that lying is after all a skill like any other, and that to maintain a good level of excellence, it is enough to practice daily. Some people feel passion for mathematics, design or writing, disciplines that by themselves also model distinctive brains based on our lifestyles, our usual practices.
"A lie can save the present, but condemns the future."
The field of psychology and sociology has always been interested in the world of lies and deception. However, for a few decades and in view of the great advances in diagnostic techniques, it is neuroscience that is offering us more valuable information at the same time as disturbing. The reason? If we said at this very moment that the dishonest personality is the result of training and continuous habituation it is possible that more than one feels surprised.
Who starts with the little lies and makes them a habit, induces the brain to a progressive state of desensitization. Little by little, big lies hurt less and become a way of life ...
The brain of a liar and the amygdala
Most of us are struck by certain behaviors of those social agents that live in our day to day. We see, for example, some politicians clinging to their lies, defending their honesty and normalizing acts that by themselves are highly reprehensible and even criminal. Are these dynamics in their role as public officials or is there perhaps something biological?
Tali Sharot, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College London, tells us that there is indeed a biological component, but also a training process. Thus, the brain structure that is directly related to these dishonest behaviors is undoubtedly the amygdala. The brain of the liar would actually go through a sophisticated process of self-training where you end up dispensing with all emotion or guilt.
In the journal Nature Neuroscience we have a very complete article published in 2017, where this is detailed. However, and to understand it better we will give an example. Imagine a young man who comes to a position of power in his company. To transmit leadership and confidence in your employees, resort to small lies. These dissonances, these small reprehensible acts make our amygdala react. This small structure of the limbic system related to our memory and emotional reactions is what limits the degree to which we are willing to lie.
Now, this young man ends up turning the use of lies into a constant resource. His work in this organization is based on the permanent and deliberate use of deception. When this approach is habitual, the amygdala stops reacting, creates tolerance and no longer emits any kind of emotional reaction. The feeling of guilt disappears, there is no remorse or worry.
The brain of a liar, so to speak, adapts to dishonesty.
The lie makes the brain work in a different way
The one who lies needs two things: memory and emotional coldness. This is what they tell us in one of the most complete books about the brain of a liar: "Why we lie ... especially to ourselves: The science of deception" by psychology professor Dan Ariely. Likewise, we are also invited to discover other neurological processes that are no less interesting on the subject.
In an experiment conducted by Dr. Ariely himself revealed that the brain structure of pathological liars has a 14% less gray matter. However, they had between 22 and 26% more white matter in the prefrontal cortex. What does this mean? Basically, a liar's brain establishes many more connections between his memories and his ideas. That greater connectivity allows them to give consistency to their lies and faster access to these associations.
All these data give us a clue about how dishonesty is developed from within, from those cognitive processes that gradually acquire greater solvency as we practice them, as our brain also stops adding the emotional component to those acts.
Thus, Dr. Airely does not fail to see in these practices something truly frightening. The fact that the amygdala stops reacting to certain facts reveals that we are losing that which, in some way, makes us human. Who no longer sees that their actions have consequences on others, loses their nobility, the natural goodness that supposedly should define us all.
The brain of a liar is shaped by a set of dark motivations. We could say that after that person who chooses to make the lie their way of life, there are a number of very specific goals: desire for power, status, domination, personal interest ... It is the ideology of whoever decides at a given moment, Prioritize yourself above others. And nothing can be more disturbing.
Let's think about it.