What habitual liars should know about their brains.

They say each lie is easier than the last.

Let's try it out.

I had a bagel for breakfast this morning. I am completely happy with my diet. My loan and rent payments are — deep breath — entirely reasonable. I am totally fine with ... how this political season ... has ... gajsdfasdjfklsadf.


Photo from iStock.

Damn it. I can't do it.

But there is a well-known idea that little white lies can eventually snowball into giant ones. (For reference, consider any romantic comedy movie, ever.)

So scientists from University College London decided to see if lies really spin out of control like we think they do.

To test this, they made people play a lying game, and scientists watched their brains.

The game was pretty simple: The player's task was to look at a jar of pennies and try to tell a friend how many pennies there were. They'd each get a prize based on their guesses. Sometimes the prizes would be better if they cooperated, but sometimes the player would get better prizes if they lied to their friend.

While this was all happening, the scientists used a type of brain scan called an fMRI to watch the activity in the person's brain.

If the player lied, a region of their brain called the amygdala would light up on the scans.

The amygdala is kind of like an emotional control booth in our brains. It lights up whenever something makes us feel an intense emotion, such as learning your child bought an alligator.

Photo by iStock.

The scientists saw that same emotional center light up when a person told a lie.

But the amygdala didn't always stay lit up and that's the interesting part of this story.

Each time a person told a self-serving lie, their amygdala reacted a little less. And larger drops in activity predicted an increase in the size of the person's lies.

So if the amygdala controls emotion, and we see less activity after repeated lying, that means...

Repeated lies might blunt the brain's emotional response.

At least, that's what the scientists are speculating. (They're a little cautious about making a big statement just yet.) They think that the first time we lie, our amygdala produces a strong emotional response, such as shame or guilt. The more you lie, however, the less the amygdala protests. Basically, the more you lie, the easier it is for you to keep lying.

However, the scientists didn't see the same pattern when the lie actually benefited the player's friend — just when it screwed them over.

So those little white lies we tell to protect our friends? Those stay with us. But the lies we tell to serve ourselves? Those can get so easy, we don't even feel them.

Scientists think this could also teach us new things about decision-making in general too, but they need to do a bit more research on that line of thinking.

"We only tested dishonesty in this experiment, but the same principle may also apply to escalations in other actions such as risk taking or violent behavior," study author Neil Garrett said in a statement.

Let's try this lying thing again...

I did not eat pizza last night. I am definitely not currently bingeing my way through Luke Cage. The traffic in my city is — eye twitch — fine. Just fine. And I am definitely not freaking out about climate change. Nope. Not at all.

I did it! Take that, amygdala.

Photo courtesy of Macy's
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Did you know that girls who are encouraged to discover and develop their strengths tend to be more likely to achieve their goals? It's true. The question, however, is how to encourage girls to develop self-confidence and grow up healthy, educated, and independent.

The answer lies in Girls Inc., a national nonprofit serving girls ages 5-18 in more than 350 cities across North America. Since first forming in 1864 to serve girls and young women who were experiencing upheaval in the aftermath of the Civil War, they've been on a mission to inspire girls to kick butt and step into leadership roles — today and in the future.

This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

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Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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Screenshots via @castrowas95/Twitter

In the Pacific Northwest, orca sightings are a fairly common occurrence. Still, tourists and locals alike marvel when a pod of "sea pandas" swim by, whipping out their phones to capture some of nature's most beautiful and intelligent creatures in their natural habitat.

While orcas aren't a threat to humans, there's a reason they're called "killer whales." To their prey, which includes just about everything that swims except humans, they are terrifying apex predators who hunt in packs and will even coordinate to attack whales several times their own size.

So if you're a human alone on a little platform boat, and a sea lion that a group of orcas was eyeing for lunch jumps onto your boat, you might feel a little wary. Especially when those orcas don't just swim on by, but surround you head-on.

Watch exactly that scenario play out (language warning, if you've got wee ones you don't want f-bombed):

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