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InvisibleDiploidM
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The Neurological Origin Of Free Will
    #4354172 - 06/30/05 04:38 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

In the 1980s, neurologist Benjamin Libet conducted an interesting experiment.

He used a tool called an electroencephalograph (EEG) to map the electrical activity in his experimental subjects' motor cortex. This is the part of the brain from which muscle movement is caused to occur.

His subjects were placed in front of a clock with one hand that went around once per second. They were then asked to press a button at random times. Each time the button was pressed, the position of the clock hand was recorded electronically, and the subject was asked what the position of the hand was when they first became aware of their intention to press the button.

On average, the subjects reported awareness of their intention to press the button about 200 milliseconds before the button was actually pressed.

Now the interesting part is that the activity in the motor cortex leading to the pressing of the button began 500 milliseconds before the button press. This is 300 milliseconds (1/3 second) before the subject consciously willed the button press.

If, as found in this experiment, the brain has already taken steps to initiate an action before we are even aware of it, the causal role of conscious volition is all but eliminated; there is no free will and our subjective experience of free will is but an illusion.


--------------------
Republican Values:

1) You can't get married to your spouse who is the same sex as you.
2) You can't have an abortion no matter how much you don't want a child.
3) You can't have a certain plant in your possession or you'll get locked up with a rapist and a murderer.

4) We need a smaller, less-intrusive government.


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InvisibleRavus
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: Diploid]
    #4354190 - 06/30/05 04:42 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

But what about good and evil? What about right and wrong? What about the children???

It's interesting though. If you say that free will is entirely contained within the brain, using the term free will loosely, then the entire 500 seconds is one unified action within the brain. Whether or not we're conscious of it, our actions follow causality; we're simply organic hardware watching the software through our perception and consciousness.


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So long as you are praised think only that you are not yet on your own path but on that of another.


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Invisibleredgreenvines
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: Diploid]
    #4354381 - 06/30/05 06:48 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

the awareness of time is also delayed by at least 100 ms
as is the awareness of the impulse to move. which adds at least 200ms to the other side.
but an isolated test with so many unconstrained elements is not definitive of the existence or non-existence of free will yet it alerts us of a disjunct in awareness that deserves investigation.


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Offlinemikeytwice
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: redgreenvines]
    #4354681 - 06/30/05 10:41 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Diploid, Libet's experiment is interesting. I'd heard of it before and it's useful to consider when pondering free will.

I can't quite determine whether we have it, though regardless of whether we do or not, it certainly *feels* like it and human interaction is structured under the implicit assumption that we have free will.

Sometimes I wonder if the idea of free will in the first place is merely a linguistic construct that refers to nothing in reality - just itself.

On the other hand, just because the EEG shos readings before people are aware of chosing something doesn't mean that there isn't some Holy and Benighted part of them that decides before our lesser and conscious self decides and influences brain activity in such a way... you almost need to admit strange and unscientific things to allow for free will... but then again, perhaps humans don't have free will in such instances most of the time, but exhibit it in long term decisions and planning... how would you determine whether someone really wants to be an architect when they grow up? It's tough.


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Invisibleredgreenvines
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: mikeytwice]
    #4354758 - 06/30/05 11:24 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

the thing is not to use this type of evidence to impinge on others' freedoms:

i.e. using how we feel about other people constraining our own freedoms is an important metric in this area of thought.

if we care about our freedoms being expanded or reduced one way or another, we are dealing directly with the issue in a tangible way.

i.e. obstructions to freedom define the nature of freedom


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Offlineexclusive58
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: Diploid]
    #4355585 - 06/30/05 03:53 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

Diploid said:

His subjects were placed in front of a clock with one hand that went around once per second. They were then asked to press a button at random times. Each time the button was pressed, the position of the clock hand was recorded electronically, and the subject was asked what the position of the hand was when they first became aware of their intention to press the button.






woah. what kind of crazy experiment is this?

for the hand to go around the clock every second, it's speed must be pretty high.

so asking for the subject to locate the position of the hand when they first thought of pushing the button seems a bit radical.

how can you honestly expect to get any precise results with this experiment?


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OfflineSneezingPenis
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: redgreenvines]
    #4355588 - 06/30/05 03:54 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

how would you report your awareness down to 200 milliseconds anyway? Im not syaing it isnt possible, im just wondering how the experiment came up with that info. Did he survey them afterwards? make them say 'Now" or what?


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OfflineOldWoodSpecter
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: Diploid]
    #4355634 - 06/30/05 04:08 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

I think this is a crappy test

First of all, how can a person distinguish when he decided to do something? Now or a third of a second before?

Second of all, that brain is the person itself. The brain decided to push the button, so the brain has free will

Diploid, you seem to separate the person from the brain by saying the brain commands the person what to do. As far as we know today, this person IS the brain. So unless there is someone outside commanding the brain what to do, the brain has free will


--------------------
I descend upon your earth from the skies
I command your very souls you unbelievers
Bring before me what is mine


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Invisibleredgreenvines
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: OldWoodSpecter]
    #4355693 - 06/30/05 04:26 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

music
and counting beats can get you into a mindframe that will measure 200ms and less fairly accurately, but the test needs higher resolution and a better kind of encephalography too.


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InvisibleRavus
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: OldWoodSpecter]
    #4355697 - 06/30/05 04:27 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

The brain is not free will though, and that's what this experiment was on. You cannot make your heart stop beating, despite the fact that it's regulated by your brain. Rather, what most people think of their brain is just the higher, voluntary areas, but the areas necessary to our survival are so basic that they are beyond our free will or even instinctive knowledge.


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So long as you are praised think only that you are not yet on your own path but on that of another.


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OfflineSneezingPenis
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: Ravus]
    #4355929 - 06/30/05 05:07 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

you can control your heart rate, and im sure if someone really dedicated who really wanted to, could stop their heart, but who wants to kill themselves after that much work and effort?


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InvisibleRavus
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: SneezingPenis]
    #4357092 - 06/30/05 11:01 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Do you have any evidence? I know people can slow their heartbeat through intense concentration, but I don't believe anyone can actually stop their heart. People can control their breathing too, but they can't stop it, as they'll either be forced to breathe through the pain or pass out and start breathing again. Evolution always seems to make ways to assure our survival for such essential components as breathing and the heartbeat.


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So long as you are praised think only that you are not yet on your own path but on that of another.


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InvisibleZero7a1
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: Diploid]
    #4357182 - 06/30/05 11:22 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

We have yet to understand the motives of our Un-concious, and I thiknk consequent arguments for our unaware self, and how that plays into the role of free will.

If half of our identity is in sleep, how can we be so sure that our concious volitions is truly initiating "free will"?


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What?


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InvisibleDiploidM
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: exclusive58]
    #4357277 - 06/30/05 11:52 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

so asking for the subject to locate the position of the hand when they first thought of pushing the button seems a bit radical.

Well, since the average delay from awareness of intent to actually pressing the button was on the order of 200 ms, that's almost a quarter of the way around for the clock hand. People time more accurately than that when they play X-Box.


--------------------
Republican Values:

1) You can't get married to your spouse who is the same sex as you.
2) You can't have an abortion no matter how much you don't want a child.
3) You can't have a certain plant in your possession or you'll get locked up with a rapist and a murderer.

4) We need a smaller, less-intrusive government.


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InvisibleDiploidM
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: SneezingPenis]
    #4357289 - 06/30/05 11:57 PM (11 years, 5 months ago)

how would you report your awareness down to 200 milliseconds anyway?

The clock is going around once per second. At that rate, every quarter turn is 250 milliseconds. The test apparatus electronically records the position of the clock when the button is pressed and the subject is then asked the position of the clock when they first became aware of the intent to press the button.

I can easily see how my awareness could occur, say, at approximately when the clock hand is at 12 and the apparatus recording the button press around 2 or 3.

Musicians, athletes, and video game players are routinely more accurate than this. I can set my metronome swinging with a period of 1 second and accurately play thirtysecond notes in 4/4 music on my accordion.  :smirk:


--------------------
Republican Values:

1) You can't get married to your spouse who is the same sex as you.
2) You can't have an abortion no matter how much you don't want a child.
3) You can't have a certain plant in your possession or you'll get locked up with a rapist and a murderer.

4) We need a smaller, less-intrusive government.


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InvisibleRavus
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: Zero7a1]
    #4357307 - 07/01/05 12:04 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Even more to the point: How is there free will in a precise universe? From a logical point of view, free will requires some wiggling room in the universe, yet if all factors are accounted for, all cause and effect is predicted, how exactly does our human brain add something external to all this?

If you say it doesn't, then that means there's no will for different alternatives, because we're just following causality and are just the outcome of many factors of the universe. Which makes sense, even if it is a frightening thought to most people.


--------------------
So long as you are praised think only that you are not yet on your own path but on that of another.


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InvisibleDiploidM
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: Ravus]
    #4357920 - 07/01/05 02:52 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

free will requires some wiggling room in the universe, yet if all factors are accounted for, all cause and effect is predicted

This isn't so.

Quantum Randomness is a real phenomenon. If there is some underlying deterministic mechanism causing it, then you may be right. But given our current knowledge, it's as fair to say that randomness is influenced by our incorporial soul as it is to say that we have nothing to do with it.


--------------------
Republican Values:

1) You can't get married to your spouse who is the same sex as you.
2) You can't have an abortion no matter how much you don't want a child.
3) You can't have a certain plant in your possession or you'll get locked up with a rapist and a murderer.

4) We need a smaller, less-intrusive government.


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OfflineSeussA
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: Diploid]
    #4358604 - 07/01/05 07:56 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

This is assuming that awareness is required for free will.

I am reminded of some animals, such as the Octopus, that can control their arms independent of the brain. In other words, an Octopus' arms can move in a coordinated manner independently of any stimulus from the brain. In a human, the neurons between the brain and the arm is simply a wire, for the most part. In the Octopus, the neurons between the brain and the arm actually 'think'.


--------------------
Just another spore in the wind.


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InvisibleDiploidM
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: Seuss]
    #4358611 - 07/01/05 08:00 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

This is assuming that awareness is required for free will.

Well, doesn't that follow by definition?

If I'm unaware of an action, how could I have willed it?


--------------------
Republican Values:

1) You can't get married to your spouse who is the same sex as you.
2) You can't have an abortion no matter how much you don't want a child.
3) You can't have a certain plant in your possession or you'll get locked up with a rapist and a murderer.

4) We need a smaller, less-intrusive government.


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InvisibletrendalM
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Re: The Neurological Origin Of Free Will [Re: Diploid]
    #4358770 - 07/01/05 10:17 AM (11 years, 5 months ago)

Quantum Randomness is a real phenomenon.

Isn't quantum randomness, at its heart, a measurement problem and not indicative of a true randomness on a fundamental level?


--------------------
You're here because you know something.
What you know you can't explain,
But you feel it;
You've felt it your entire life.
That there's something wrong with the world.
You don't know what it is, but it's there....
Like a splinter in your mind...
Driving you mad.


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General Interest >> Philosophy, Sociology & Psychology

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