Published November 07, 2005
HONOLULU – A group of scientists are turning to people's stomachs to find out if they are telling the truth.
A new study by the University of Texas (search) measured electrical impulses in the stomachs of 16 volunteers that were only associated with the act of lying.
"The heart rate went up for both lying and truth, but the gastric electric activity only changed with lying," said Pankaj Pasricha (search), a researcher with the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
The study was released at the American College of Gastroenterology's (search) 70th annual meeting in Hawaii this week.
The idea for the study came from Pasricha's daughter's, Trisha, a junior at Clear Lake High School in Houston, who wanted to know if stress could provide clues to lying for a science fair project.
Her father, a gastroenterologist, said the stomach is very sensitive to electrical activity.
So they took the study into Pasricha's lab, where 16 adults underwent both the regular polygraph that measured heartbeats and one that captured gastric impulses while they answered a series of questions.
The findings were "provocative," Pasricha said.
"It does clearly suggest that at the very least it could add to the current ... standard polygraph use," he said.
Pasricha said he is currently trying to get funding for a larger, more rigorous study.
"I'm waiting for the call," he said. "If a company says, 'OK, we want to pursue this research further and we are able to sponsor it' I'd be very happy to do so."