Think you can tell when someone is lying? People who think they have good intuition and a ?gut instinct? about liars are worse at picking out liars than those who don?t, says Paul Seager of the University of Central Lancashire in the U.K. ?People generally aren?t very good at detecting lies — accuracy is between 45 and 65 per cent,? he says. ?So my interest is: are there ways of making people better lie detectors??

Seager showed 10 video clips of people lying or telling the truth about their favorite films or preferred ways of relaxing to 200 people. Half the people being tested believed they were very intuitive and got high scores on questionnaires designed to reveal this. The other half had low scores.

The intuitive group were 59 per cent accurate at detecting lies. But the non-intuitive people were 69 per cent accurate. ?The intuitives fell into the normal range, but the others were significantly better,? Seager says.

One possible explanation for this may be that intuitives in rely on common misconceptions about how to spot a liar, he says. ?It could be that they look for a lack of eye contact or shifting — cues that people think are linked to lying but are not. While the non-intuitives in fact use what people are actually saying, and other cues, such as their arm or leg movements.?

Previous research suggests that people restrict their arm and leg movements when they are telling a lie. This is the kind of tip off that professional lie detectors, such as the police, learn to pay attention to. ?Police are generally no more accurate at detecting lies than the rest of us — they just have more confidence in themselves of being right,? Seager says. ?It would be a good idea to run basic training sessions to reinforce what cues people should be using, which to the best of my knowledge is not generally done.?

Seager says, ?The main implication of this research is simple: if you think you’re using a gut instinct, don?t. Use something more concrete — look at the research and use the cues that it shows are in fact linked to lies.?

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Scientists can use scanners to show which part of our brain makes brand choices when we?re shopping, reports Roger Highfield in the English Telegraph newspaper. This ?shopping center? becomes active when you pick out one brand of any particular item in preference to another.

Advertisers want to use this data to figure out what types of advertising and marketing strategies will work best, but this discovery could go beyond our choices at the local supermarket to reveal the brain processes that control choosing a spouse, a house or a career.

Steven Rose?s team from the Open University and London Business School measured electrical activity in the heads of shoppers who were browsing in an internet version of a large grocery store chain. The scanner looks like a salon hair-drier and is too bulky to be portable right now, so it can?t be worn like a hat while you shop in a real store. The MEG scanner watched what was going on inside heads while they made a choice between different brands by pressing a button.

They found that when a choice was made there was activity in the ?right parietal cortex.?This brain region is located just above and at the back of the right ear, and seems make the choice about the value of a product. The team found that the brain was hugely active during the 2.5 seconds it took for the button to be pressed. They want to study whether this brain region is bigger and more active in women than men, or in compulsive shoppers.

?Within 80 milliseconds (thousandths of a second) the visual cortex, where information from the eye is processed, responds as we perceive the choice items,? says Rose. ?A little later, regions of the brain associated with memory and speech become active, when we begin to interpret the image and vocalize it silently — saying the name of the brand in our heads — especially if we don?t have a strong preference.

?Finally, after about 800 milliseconds — and this was the surprising thing — if and only if they really do prefer one of the choice items then a region called the right parietal cortex becomes active,? says Rose. ?This lights up if and only if you actually do prefer Coke to Pepsi or Pepsi to Coke.?

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Losing money effects the part of the brain?s emotional circuit that is located behind the forehead, psychologists William Gehring and Adrian Willoughby of the University of Michigan have discovered.

This reaction seems to lead to the gambler?s mistaken belief that, just because the roulette wheel has come up red four times in a row, the next turn is more likely to be black. ?The brain thinks it’s due a win — it expects things to average out,? Gehring says.

This brain region is the medial frontal cortex, or MFC, and is part of the limbic system, which produces our emotions. ?To link [the MFC] to economic decision-making is very exciting,? says psychologist Don Tucker of the University of Oregon. But, he cautions, ?it?s just one clue to the circuitry. It?s not as if this is the neural basis of the decision.?

Animal studies have shown that the same brain region fires when events don?t match their expectations and a change of plans is needed, says Tucker. The irrational behavior of gamblers suggests that our brains might not be perfectly adapted to modern human life. ?Rabbits make the right choices in most situations,? he says. ?Humans in Las Vegas might not.?

Gehring and Willoughby showed volunteers two numbers — 5 and 25 or a pair of either one — and asked them to pick one. The numbers then turned either green or red at random, to represent winning or losing. The gamblers gained or paid the amount of their choice in cents. Electrodes on their scalp recorded their mental activity.

Researchers found that the neural blip in the MFC area of the brain occurs within a quarter of a second of the news of a loss. ?It happens so fast, there?s not time for conscious awareness to occur,? says Gehring. He believes the response is a snap reaction that is later incorporated into emotional and rational thinking.

The MFC separates winning from losing, but does not distinguish a good choice from a bad one. Both numbers turning red caused a spike of activity in the MFC whether the subject being tested lost only 5 cents or 25 cents.

Gehring thinks the MFC is generally sensitive to bad events and people with obsessive-compulsive disorders have hyperactive MFCs. Their brains are constantly telling them that something bad is happening, which needs to be corrected by hand-washing, for example. Conversely, some people with antisocial tendencies have underactive MFCs, making them less responsive to punishment.

If you?re tired of trusting your instincts when it comes to liars and cereal brands, learn the craft of remote viewing. Read ?Remote Viewing Secrets? by Joe McMoneagle, click here.

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