Henry T. Greely


Several of the articles in this symposium consider different aspects of the intersection of neuroscience and testing for deception. Professor Joelle Moreno’s article provides an important philosophic link for those thinking about the role of the academy in evaluating novel scientific evidence such as neuroscience. Noting that “profound validity questions divide cognitive neuroscientists,” Professor Moreno cautions against ready admission of cognitive neuroscience evidence, recognizing that the images presented may be far more persuasive to judges and juries than they legitimately should be. Quoting studies on the effect of neuroscience evidence in forming opinions, she reminds readers that cognitive neuroscience evidence can “strongly sway opinion, beyond what the evidence can support.”

My article on the neuroscience of deception primarily looks at the fMRI studies of neuroimaging and discusses the reasons why such studies do not yet meet standards of evidentiary trustworthiness. Drawing on the lessons from courts’ decisions to admit much forensic science without proof of its validity or reliability, the article argues against ready admission of such evidence in the courtroom. Rather, it counsels in favor of an informal moratorium, while scientists and their critics consider and debate the neuroscience of deception, and other scholars consider the moral, jurisprudential, and ethical implications of such evidence.