TV's newest law-enforcement hero is a mind reader of sorts, an expert in the language of faces who can masterfully pick up whether a suspect is fibbing by his or her expressions. Lie to Me, premiering tonight at 9 P.M. Eastern time on Fox, is inspired by the work of psychologist Paul Ekman, a guru of interpreting facial expression and nonverbal communication.

Ekman trains law enforcement authorities to clue into body language based on his Facial Action Coding (FAC) system, a collection of more than 10,000 combinations of expressions and their relationship to particular emotions published in 1978. The show's protagonist, Cal Lightman (played by actor Tim Roth) is, like Ekman, in charge of a company that teaches cops and federal agents those same tricks. The New York Times noted yesterday that a producer of the series, Brian Grazer, decided to build a show around Ekman's work after reading about it in a 2002 piece in The New Yorker.

Ekman said he plans to write weekly columns about the science behind the series on his Web site.

For more, read Scientific American MIND's review of the show and the mag's 2006 feature on Ekman.

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