Memory detection with the Concealed Information Test: A meta analysis of skin conductance, respiration, heart rate, and P300 data


  • This research was funded by a grant No. 408/09 from the Israel Science Foundation to Gershon Ben-Shakhar and a NWO VENI grant (451-11-038) to Ewout Meijer. We wish to thank Dr. Matthias Gamer, Dr. Wolfgang Ambach, Dr. Bruno Verschuere, and Dr. Izumi Matsuda for providing us with assistance and data.


The Concealed Information Test (CIT) uses psychophysiological measures to determine the presence or absence of crime-related information in a suspect's memory. We conducted a meta-analysis on the validity of the CIT based on four physiological measures—skin conductance response (SCR), respiration line length (RLL), changes in heart rate (HR), and enhanced amplitudes of the P300 component of the event-related potential (P300). This meta-analysis relied on laboratory studies that used either the mock-crime or the personal-item paradigm. Results showed a mean effect size (d*) of 1.55 for SCR, 1.11 for RLL, 0.89 for HR, and 1.89 for P300. However, P300 outperformed SCR only in the personal-item paradigm, but not in the mock-crime paradigm. Motivation level, number of questions, publication year, and the inclusion of innocent participants emerged as significant moderators for the SCR, while only the type of paradigm used moderated the P300 effect.