A source of despair in consciousness studies is the way in which popular science writers continue to plough ahead making pronouncements that are flatly contradicted by the neuroscientific data of recent years. In particular, consciousness students might be forgiven for screaming every time Libet’s veteran 1980s experiment is trundled out. Halligan and Oakley writing in a recent issue of ‘New Scientist’ go down this predictable route. The brain prepares for actions such as reaching out prior to awareness of the intention to reach.
Posts Tagged ‘Libet’
Once upon a time Laura Spinney :: New Scientist, 10 January 2015 :: www.newscientist.com Summary and review of the above article INTRODUCTION: The brain is shown to assemble the experience of the specious present from inputs arriving at a variety of times. It is seen to use its inputs to make very short timescale predictions about the future, providing the evolutionary advantage of quicker reaction times. Unusually for something published in a popular science magazine, there is also a challenge Read more […]
Neural antecedents of self-initiated actions in secondary motor cortex Murikami, M. Vicente, Gil Costa & Z. Mainen Nature Neuroscience, vol. 17, No. 11, pp. 1574-82, November 2014 www.nature.com/neuro Summary and review of the above paper INTRODUCTION: In a very guarded fashion, the authors of this paper cast doubt on the Libet-based orthodoxy where pre-conscious activity in the brain precludes the possibility of conscious will. Their research suggests that a simple threshold Read more […]
The Focus magazine’s reply to this question leaves considerable gaps in terms of the present century’s neuroscience. Benjamin Libet’s experiment from the 1980s is once again confidently quoted as a refutation of the concept of freewill. This veteran experiment showed that brain activity could be detected before the conscious awareness of the intention to perform an action, and has ever after been trundled out as a refutation of freewill.
Incognito David Eagleman This book represents a fairly standard exploration of the unconscious aspects of the mind, but in at least two areas it fails to fully explore its subject in the light of the most recent neuroscience. The function of the orbitofrontal region of the brain is presented here in a quasi-Freudian style, in which some automated process in the orbitofrontal represses urges towards various undesirable behaviour, which emerge as soon as the orbitofrontal is compromised. Read more […]
David H. Ingvar Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6, Nos 8-9 (1999) pp. 1-10 The article discusses studies of actual and imagined willed acts. These studies suggest that such acts are planned in the frontal and prefrontal cortex as programmes for motor, verbal, cognitive and other acts. Brain scanning shows that prefrontal activity is different for actual and imagined activities. In psychiatric illnesses, reductions in the resting activity of the prefrontal have been recorded. The relationship Read more […]
Reconstrual of “Free Will” from the Agentic Perspective of Social Cognitive Theory Albert Bandura In: Are We Free? Psychology and Free Will Agency involves not only the ability to deliberate, make choices and construct action plans, but also the capacity to carry out the action plans. Agents also reflect on their actions, and make adjustments to their future plans and actions. Humans are not just machines that use a negative feedback to guide themselves back to a state desired by their Read more […]
Anil Ananthaswamy, based on Aaron Schurger at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research France, and on Judy Trevena & Jeff Miller at the University of Otago New Scientist, 11 August 2012 Libet’s experiments have been the cornerstone of the late twentieth century orthodoxy’s refutation of freewill. A minority of critics have argued that these experiments only referred to trivial and predetermined movements, rather than longer term or deliberative decisions that might be involved Read more […]
Daniel Wegner The author’s purpose is to demonstrate that conscious will is not efficacious. The Libet experiments suggested that unconscious processing drives trivial actions such as moving a finger. Wegner argues that it is the same for more important activities. To do this, he must separate conscious desires, plans and intentions from bodily actions. Although the claimed fact of such a separation is repeated exhaustively throughout the book, the argument really rests on a single example. This Read more […]
Fronto-basal-ganglia circuits for stopping action Ian Greenhouse, Nicole Swann & Adam Aron In:- Neural Basis of Motivational and Cognitive Control INTRODUCTION: This chapter describes a neural network that can stop initiated actions. This qualifies the naïve interpretation of the Libet experiments that ascribes all choice to readiness potentials that proceed conscious awareness of the decision to make (trivial) actions. Libet himself suggested there might be a ‘free won’t’ that could Read more […]