Brain scanners and free will

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5 thoughts on “Brain scanners and free will

  1. Siler

    In this <a href="http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2008-04/m-udi041408.php"press release, Haynes seems more cautious about what this experiment actually means: “Our study shows that decisions are unconsciously prepared much longer ahead than previously thought. But we do not know yet where the final decision is made. We need to investigate whether a decision prepared by these brain areas can still be reversed.”

    It’s interesting that this experiment relies on the subject to remember when he/she made the decision to press one button or the other. Introspecting about how one makes decisions is dizzying.

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    1. Siler

      Sorry, I messed that up.

      In this press release, Haynes seems more cautious about what this experiment actually means: “Our study shows that decisions are unconsciously prepared much longer ahead than previously thought. But we do not know yet where the final decision is made. We need to investigate whether a decision prepared by these brain areas can still be reversed.”

      It’s interesting that this experiment relies on the subject to remember when he/she made the decision to press one button or the other. Introspecting about how one makes decisions is dizzying.

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  2. Hunt

    It’s interesting that even if we aren’t actually in the driver’s seat, there is no latency between action and realization of action. If there were then you would act, then realize that that was what you wanted to do. It’s possible that in emergency situations this system of gated action breaks down. How much of reflex is actually the subliminal system actually taking charge of our nervous system and acting before we actually register sensation?

    So, basically, the system progresses like this: a subconscious part of you decides to act. The action is withheld until your conscious self has registered the decision, then the action takes place.

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  3. Sandi

    Even when choices don’t appear to be explicity our own, it does not necessarily follow that choices are not being made at all. A USU theoretical physicist recently said to me that “Space, unlike time, requires the existence of a multiplicity of conscious beings that trust one another.” Other quantum theorists are matter-of-factly saying things like, “Dark matter appears to be more intelligent than dark energy [that] increasing intelligence seems to parallel increasing density and complexity.”

    I think it is a mistake to assume to much at this point no matter what the seems-likeness of all the brain scan data. We may just be working out of a broken paradigm and interpreting the data from a fundamentally crippled–certainly limited–perspective.

    “And that’s all I have to say about that.” –Forrest Gump

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