The role of deception in P300 memory detection


Correspondence should be addressed to Dr Bruno Verschuere, Department of Psychology, Ghent University, H. Dunantlaan 2, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium (e-mail:


Purpose. P300 memory detection test is a neuroscientific procedure to assess memories stored in the brain. P300 memory detection can and is currently applied to assess criminal suspects on recognition of critical crime information. Contrasting memory detection with lie detection, researchers have argued that P300 memory detection does not involve deception. We empirically investigated this argument by manipulating deception between groups.

Methods. Thirty-four community volunteers participated in a P300 memory detection test, answering either deceptively (deceptive condition) or truthfully (truth condition) to their own name.

Results. P300 memory detection was significant in the truth condition, indicating that deceptive responding is not a prerequisite for valid P300 memory detection. However, there were clear indications that deceptive responding improved memory detection.

Conclusions. Deception seems involved in the P300 memory detection test; and deceptive responding may add to test accuracy.