Public Release: 

New study suggests the stomach - not the heart - offers greater lie detection accuracy

American College of Gastroenterology

HONOLULU, October 31, 2005 -- A new study suggests that changes in gastric physiology perform better than standard polygraph methods in distinguishing between lying and telling the truth. The University of Texas study, released today at the 70th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, demonstrates a clear link between the act of lying and a significant increase in gastric arrhythmia.

To test their hypothesis that the gastrointestinal tract is uniquely sensitive to mental stress because of the communication between the central nervous system and the enteric nervous system, researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch recruited sixteen healthy volunteers to undergo simultaneous electrogastrogram (EGG) and electrocardiogram (EKG) recordings for three periods.

The researchers found that both lying and truth telling affected cardiac symptoms, while the act of lying was also associated with gastric symptoms. The EGG showed a significant decrease in the percentage of normal gastric slow waves when the subject was lying that corresponded to a significant increase in the average heart rate during the same situation.

"We concluded that the addition of the EGG to standard polygraph methods has clear value in improving the accuracy of current lie detectors," said Pankaj Pasricha, MD, University of Texas Medical Branch. "The communication between the big brain and the little brain in the stomach can be complex and merits further study."

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About the American College of Gastroenterology
The ACG was formed in 1932 to advance the scientific study and medical treatment of disorders of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The College promotes the highest standards in medical education and is guided by its commitment to meeting the needs of clinical gastroenterology practitioners. Consumers can get more information on GI diseases through the following ACG-sponsored programs:

  • 1-800-978-7666 (free brochures on common GI disorders, including ulcer, colon cancer, gallstones, and liver disease)
  • 1-866-IBS-RELIEF and www.ibsrelief.org (free educational materials)
  • 1-800-HRT-BURN (free brochure and video on heartburn and GERD)
  • www.acg.gi.org (ACG's Web site)

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