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Clues to pathological liars may lie in brain, study finds

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New York (dpa) - Pathological liars have brain structures that could explain why they don't feel remorse or guilt, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Southern California said they found that people who repeatedly lied, cheated and manipulated others have a surplus of so-called white matter in the prefrontal cortex area of the brain.

More white matter - the wiring of the brain - may provide liars with the tools to master the art of deceit, said study co-author Adrian Raine.

"When people make moral decisions, they are relying on the prefrontal cortex," Raine said. If liars have less grey matter - the actual brain cells - in that part of the brain, "they are less likely to care about moral issues," he said.

The study in the latest issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry involved 49 volunteers from Los Angeles. The authors acknowledged the sample was small and urged more research into the topic.

If the findings are confirmed, they could be useful for police, doctors and pre-employment screening by businesses, said co-author Yaling Yang.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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