Friday, October 7, 2011

We Know Free Will Doesn't Exist …

… because of experiments on five subjects:

The recordable cerebral activity (readiness-potential, RP) that precedes a freely voluntary, fully endogenous motor act was directly compared with the reportable time (W) for appearance of the subjective experience of 'wanting' or intending to act. The onset of cerebral activity clearly preceded by at least several hundred milliseconds the reported time of conscious intention to act. This relationship held even for those series (with 'type II' RPs) in which subjects reported that all of the 40 self-initiated movements in the series appeared 'spontaneously' and capriciously. Data were obtained in at least 6 different experimental sessions with each of 5 subjects.

There's better data, though. Another study had 14 subjects:

Haynes and his colleagues imaged the brains of 14 volunteers while they performed a decision-making task. The volunteers were asked to press one of two buttons when they felt the urge to. Each button was operated by a different hand. At the same time, a stream of letters were presented on a screen at half-second intervals, and the volunteers had to remember which letter was showing when they decided to press their button.

I think this was the study I discussed here.

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