The expert behind a new hit TV series says tiny expressions reveal if someone is lying

CHICAGO–Sometimes a curl of the lip can catch an unfaithful lover … or a murderer.

In the new television series Lie to Me, deception expert Cal Lightman, played by British actor Tim Roth, reads people’s true feelings to uncover their lies. He and his team collaborate with law enforcement and government agents to crack their trickiest cases, solve murders and uncover scandal.

Though it may seem unlikely that an upward glance or a slight shrug could catch a killer, most of the show’s science is sound.

Lie to Me is based on the work of prominent psychologist Paul Ekman, the world’s expert on involuntary “microexpressions.” A former professor at the University of California, San Francisco, author of books on subjects ranging from lying to Buddhism, and editor of the 2005 edition of Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Ekman, now in his seventies, has been studying facial expressions and body movements for more than 50 years.

“The face is the best marker we have to know what is going on with people emotionally,” says Ekman, in Chicago recently for a science convention.

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