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Abstract

Background A recently emergent functional neuroimaging literature has described the functional anatomical correlates of deception among healthy volunteers, most often implicating the ventrolateral prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices. To date, there have been no such imaging studies of people with severe mental illness.

Aims To discover whether the brains of people with schizophrenia would manifest a similar functional anatomical distinction between the states of truthfulness and deceit. It is hypothesised that, as with healthy people, persons with schizophrenia will show activation in the ventrolateral prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortices when lying.

Method Fifty-two people satisfying Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder-IV criteria for schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging at 3 T while responding truthfully or with lies to questions concerning their recent actions. Half the sample was concurrently experiencing delusions.

Results As hypothesised, patients exhibited greater activity in ventrolateral prefrontal cortices while lying. Truthful responses were not associated with any areas of relatively increased activation. The presence or absence of delusions did not substantially affect these findings, although subtle laterality effects were discernible upon post hoc analyses.

Conclusions As in healthy cohorts, the brains of people with schizophrenia exhibit a functional anatomical distinction between the states of truthfulness and deceit. Furthermore, this distinction pertains even in the presence of delusions. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.