Consciousness

Home » Uncategorized » New study on free will: it exists, but there is a ‘point of no return’ beyond which we cannot consciously interfere

New study on free will: it exists, but there is a ‘point of no return’ beyond which we cannot consciously interfere

The debate on conscious free-will and determinism in human decision-making has attracted researchers and been ongoing since at least the 1980s. At that time, the American researcher Benjamin Libet studied the nature of cerebral processes of study participants during conscious decision-making. He demonstrated that conscious decisions were initiated by unconscious brain processes, and that a wave of brain activity referred to as a ‘readiness potential’ could be recorded even before the subject had made a conscious decision.
How can the unconscious brain processes possibly know in advance what decision a person is going to make at a time when they are not yet sure themselves? Until now, the existence of such preparatory brain processes has been regarded as evidence of ‘determinism’, according to which free will is nothing but an illusion, meaning our decisions are initiated by unconscious brain processes, and not by our ‘conscious self’. Berlin researchers (John-Dylan Hanynes’ team) have now taken a fresh look at this issue. Using state-of-the-art measurement techniques, the researchers tested whether people are able to stop planned movements once the readiness potential for a movement has been triggered. — “Our study now shows that the freedom is much less limited than previously thought. However, there is a ‘point of no return’ in the decision-making process, after which cancellation of movement is no longer possible.”

http://www.neuroscientistnews.com/research-news/brain-computer-duel-do-we-have-free-will


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