Stomach Can't Digest Lies
By American College of Gastroenterology
Nov 1, 2005, 13:27

A study conducted by 16-year-old 'Trisha' and her dad Dr. P. Jay Pasricha, director of the Division of Gastroenterology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, shows the digestive tract is uniquely sensitive to mental stress. It also 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 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."

Post-doctoral fellow Dr. Hanaa Sallam and associate professor of gastroenterology Dr. Jiande Chen also participated in the study. Trisha Pasricha is a junior at Clear Lake High School in Houston, Texas.

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