April 15, 2008

Free will pwnd

Unconscious decisions in the brain: A team of scientists has unravelled how the brain unconsciously prepares our decisions.
Already several seconds before we consciously make a decision its outcome can be predicted from unconscious activity in the brain. This is shown in a study by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, in collaboration with the Charité University Hospital and the Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience in Berlin. The researchers from the group of Professor John-Dylan Haynes used a brain scanner to investigate what happens in the human brain just before a decision is made. "Many processes in the brain occur automatically and without involvement of our consciousness. This prevents our mind from being overloaded by simple routine tasks. But when it comes to decisions we tend to assume they are made by our conscious mind. This is questioned by our current findings." (Nature Neuroscience, April 13th 2008)


Nato said...

"Free will" is only "pwnd" by this research (which isn't, so far as I can tell, all that new or shocking if you've been following neurology for the last 10 years) if one clings to a problematic idea of what "free will" means. Dennett's varieties of free will (worth wanting) are perfectly consonant with this sort of research outcome, and even require them to a significant extent. That said, I'm glad to see old-style, incoherent varieties get pwnd.

George said...

Nato, thanks for the clarification; I couldn't resist the headline :-)