Archive for the ‘Neuroscience, the unconscious and movement’ Category

Volition and the physical law

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Volition and Physical Laws Jean Burns Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6, No. 10, 1999, pp. 27-47 http://ingentaconnect.com/journals/browse/imp/jcs The author starts by pointing out that the presently known physical laws provide only determinism in classical physics and randomness within quantum physics neither of which can be a basis for freewill or volition. Burns suggests that if such a thing as volition does exist it only acts under certain conditions in the brain, and has only a Read more […]

Volition and new brain circuitry

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A Role for Volition and Attention in the Generation of New Brain CircuitryJeffrey SchwartzUCLA Dept. of Psychiatry Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6, No. 8-9, pp. 115-42http://ingentaconnect.com/journals/browse/imp/jcs This paper argues that the exercise of the conscious will can overcome or reduce the problems of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). This disorder leads to repetitive behaviour, for example repeated unnecessary hand washing. The patient is aware that their behaviour Read more […]

Unconscious will

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The Unconscious will: How the pursuit of goals operates outside of conscious awareness Custers, R. & Aarts, H. Science, 2 July 2010, vol. 329, no. 5987, pp. 47-50, DOI: 10.1126/science.1188595 http://www.sciencemag.org The authors claim to demonstrate that goals and motivations can arise unconsciously, and that they can propose a mechanism by which this happens. The main part of the paper discusses experiments involving ‘priming’. The authors refer to a study conducted by J. Bargh Read more […]

Basal ganglia and freewill

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Wolfram Schultz The Primate Basal Ganglia and the Voluntary Control of Behaviour Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6, Nos 8-9 (1999) http://ingentaconnect.com/journals/browse/imp/jcs The article discusses experiments to determine the neural processes underlying goal-directed behaviour. It was found that single neurons in the striatum became active a few seconds before movements made in the absence of external stimuli. There was also activation in the closely connected supplementary motor Read more […]

The power of the mental force

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The Mind and The Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of the Mental Force Jeffrey Schwartz and Sharon Begley Harper Collins (2002) This book discusses clinical practise that suggests that the conscious will can alter habits or compulsions that are driven by flaws in the structure of patients’ brains. It is also suggested that the exercise of the conscious will can mould new structures in the brain to support an altered habituation. The author links this finding to Henry Stapp’s version of Read more […]

The neuroscience of movement

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Susan Pockett University of Auckland, Dept. of Physics In: Does Consciousness Cause Behaviour  –  Eds., Susan Pockett, William Banks & Shaun Gallagher  –  MIT Press, (2006)   –  ISBN:  978-0-262-16237-1 In this article Susan Pockett examines the connection between intentions and bodily movements. She emphasises that the brain has no obvious place for the initiation of action. However, the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, where patients find that they can intend or will a movement, Read more […]

Neural basis of freewill

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Peter Ulric Tse MIT Press Summary and review of the above book The author argues for a form of conscious agency that plays a role in the brain’s executive functions and in endogneous attention (attention to issues generated within the brain rather than exogenous signals from outside). Executive functions involve assessing possible behaviours against goals. Qualia are seen as something that can be operated on by endogneous attention. Volitional attention is argued to take place only in relation Read more […]

Freewill

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Sam Harris Free Press (2012) Libet’s famous experiment is introduced at an early stage in this book, and along with similar experiments, it is essentially the whole basis of the author’s argument. In Libet’s studies, activity in the motor cortex was apparent about 300 milliseconds before subjects were conscious of the wish to make a movement. This has since been widely promoted as a proof that free will/consciousness plays no part in determining behaviour. What is not discussed here is that Read more […]

Free choice and the human brain

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Richard Passingham & Hakwan Lau Dept. of Experimental Psychology, Oxford University Dept. of Psychology, Columbia University In: Does Consciousness Cause Behaviour  –  Eds., Susan Pockett, William Banks & Shaun Gallagher  –  MIT Press, (2006)   –  ISBN:  978-0-262-16237-1 The authors draw a distinction between actions that are the result of changes within the subject and actions that are prompted from outside or are specified by external cues. They have studied the brain Read more […]

Do we have freewill

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Benjamin Libet   The article concentrates on Libet’s own experiments showing that unconscious electrical activity in the brain preceded voluntary actions by up to 400ms. This discovery has been widely seized on, although not be Libet himself, as a proof that freewill does not exist and thus as a confirmation of the deterministic paradigm of mainstream neuroscience. The main flaw with these experiments and the conclusions drawn from them is that they focus on the trivial. In Libet’s own Read more […]