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Is the concept of 'free will' an illusion ?


Posted on Monday, 23 June, 2014 | Comment icon 35 comments

Do we really possess free will ? Image Credit: CC 2.0 Andrew Mason
Scientists believe that free will could be due to fluctuations in the background noise of the brain.
As a species we like to believe that our actions are governed by our own decisions and that we have the ability to make autonomous choices as we see fit. Some believe however that the very concept of free will is nothing but an illusion.

Scientists at the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California have recently discovered that the choices we make may actually be influenced by the background activity of the brain.

Their findings were based on an experiment in which volunteers were asked to look at a screen before making a decision whether to look left or right. What the researchers found was that it was possible to predict which choice any given person would make by observing their brain activity even before they had actually made a decision.

"The state of the brain right before presentation of the cue determines whether you will attend to the left or to the right," said Dr Jesse Bengson. "[Though] purposeful intentions, desires and goals drive our decisions in a linear cause-and-effect kind of way, our finding shows that our decisions are also influenced by neural noise within any given moment."

Source: Independent | Comments (35)

Tags: Free Will, Brain

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #26 Posted by gatekeeper32 on 24 June, 2014, 15:04
The ultimate testimonial to free will is the ability to chose self-destruction in the pursuitt of pleasure. i.e. Smoking, drug addition,
Comment icon #27 Posted by questionmark on 24 June, 2014, 15:24
But, the choices we make are influenced by the ones you made before that choice. Circumstances are also dictated by earlier choices. That can be totally external to yourself... like having hunger every few hours and needing to drink at least once in 48 hours and having somebody stronger than you sitting on the well with the food bag.
Comment icon #28 Posted by danielost on 24 June, 2014, 17:19
The stronger person holding the bag of food is making choices too based on his expearancesm
Comment icon #29 Posted by Hobbit Feet on 24 June, 2014, 17:51
True Machiavellians have free will whether anyone likes or not!
Comment icon #30 Posted by questionmark on 24 June, 2014, 18:13
The stronger person holding the bag of food is making choices too based on his expearancesm Well, more relevant is what the hungry guy is going to base his decision on...
Comment icon #31 Posted by Leonardo on 24 June, 2014, 19:03
I still say that you could have had a choice but you took the path that your previous experience told you was "better". The concept of free-will presumes that the future and past exist as 'choices' we may, or may not, take - but the future does not exist, although it may be predicted. And examination of any past sequence of events will suggest that there is only ever a single outcome for any unique event. We cannot claim the existence of something we cannot observe, and free-will presumes the existence of 'alternate realities' where different outcomes to unique events occurred. So, where are t... [More]
Comment icon #32 Posted by DieChecker on 24 June, 2014, 20:44
Is the background noise God?
Comment icon #33 Posted by Junior Chubb on 24 June, 2014, 22:12
You really only had two choices to choose from. There was a third.... Banning you
Comment icon #34 Posted by EllJay on 24 June, 2014, 22:20
Is the concept of 'free will' an illusion ? I think the will of illusions on the concept of free...is an illusion.
Comment icon #35 Posted by RaymondEternal on 4 August, 2014, 13:33
Hypotheoreotically speaking decision equals to free will and posting this article is free will.......


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