You are here

Science Resources: Neuroscience

John VanMeter
February 7, 2019

This module provides a basic overview of how functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology works, what the data can tell a researcher, and what challenges those who seek to introduce fMRI data in court face.

Dr. John VanMeter, director of the Center for Functional and Molecular Imaging at Georgetown University, applies his significant expertise in the analysis of magnetic resonance imaging data to demonstrate an experiment using fMRI and discusses caveats of this technology, experiment structure, the group-to-individual inference problem, and how these things could be useful to the courts.


  • to understand what fMRI is measuring and how the data is analyzed
  • to understand the caveats of fMRI studies
  • to gain awareness of the types of cases that might draw upon fMRI data

To learn more about Dr. VanMeter, click here.

Additional Resources:

  • Prospects of Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging as Lie Detector
  • Martha J. Farah, J. Benjamin Hutchinson, Elizabeth A. Phelps & Anthony D. Wagner, Functional MRI-Based Lie Detection: Scientific and Societal Challenges, 15 Nature Reviews Neuroscience 123 (2014).
  • Michael S. Pardo, Lying, Deception, and fMRI: A Critical Update, in Neurolaw and Responsibility for Action: Concepts, Crimes, and Courts 143 (Bebhinn Donnelly-Lazarov ed., Cambridge University Press 2018).
  • Anthony D. Wagner et al., fMRI and Lie Detection, MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Law and Neuroscience (2016).