Navigation Links
Does 'free will' stem from brain noise?
Date:6/9/2014

Our ability to make choices and sometimes mistakes might arise from random fluctuations in the brain's background electrical noise, according to a recent study from the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis.

"How do we behave independently of cause and effect?" said Jesse Bengson, a postdoctoral researcher at the center and first author on the paper. "This shows how arbitrary states in the brain can influence apparently voluntary decisions."

The brain has a normal level of "background noise," Bengson said, as electrical activity patterns fluctuate across the brain. In the new study, decisions could be predicted based on the pattern of brain activity immediately before a decision was made.

Bengson sat volunteers in front of a screen and told them to fix their attention on the center, while using electroencephalography, or EEG, to record their brains' electrical activity. The volunteers were instructed to make a decision to look either to the left or to the right when a cue symbol appeared on screen, and then to report their decision.

The cue to look left or right appeared at random intervals, so the volunteers could not consciously or unconsciously prepare for it.

The brain has a normal level of "background noise," Bengson said, as electrical activity patterns fluctuate across the brain. The researchers found that the pattern of activity in the second or so before the cue symbol appeared before the volunteers could know they were going to make a decision could predict the likely outcome of the decision.

"The state of the brain right before presentation of the cue determines whether you will attend to the left or to the right," Bengson said.

The experiment builds on a famous 1970s experiment by Benjamin Libet, a psychologist at UCSF who was later affiliated with the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience.

Libet also measured brain electrical activity immediately before a volunteer made a decision to press a switch in response to a visual signal. He found brain activity immediately before the volunteer reported deciding to press the switch.

The new results build on Libet's finding, because they provide a model for how brain activity could precede decision, Bengson said. Additionally, Libet had to rely on when volunteers said they made their decision. In the new experiment, the random timing means that "we know people aren't making the decision in advance," Bengson said.

Libet's experiment raised questions of free will if our brain is preparing to act before we know we are going to act, how do we make a conscious decision to act? The new work, though, shows how "brain noise" might actually create the opening for free will, Bengson said.

"It inserts a random effect that allows us to be freed from simple cause and effect," he said.

The work, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, was published online in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

Bengson is also currently a visiting assistant professor at Bates College, Maine. Co-authors on the paper are Todd Kelley, postdoctoral researcher, Center for Mind and Brain; Professor Jane-Ling Wang and graduate student Xiaoke Zhang, Department of Statistics; and Professor George (Ron) Mangun, Center for Mind and Brain and dean of the Division of Social Sciences at UC Davis.


'/>"/>

Contact: Andy Fell
ahfell@ucdavis.edu
530-752-4533
University of California - Davis
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Elsevier organizes label-free technologies conference
2. Exercise helps smokers to quit smoking, to remain smoke-free and to reduce the risk of death
3. It takes a village to keep teens substance free
4. Researchers Test Laxative-Free Colon Scan
5. SYNERGY HomeCare Offers Free Home Safety Assessments
6. US Drug Watchdog Now Offers To Get A Free Legal Review For All DePuy ASR Recipients Who Received A Letter From Broadspire About Their Recalled DePuy Hip Implant
7. Introducing Aleratec’s New Automatic Shredder: The RoboShredder; Hands Free Information Security
8. Webvet.com Offers Free Promotional Pages for Veterinary Professionals
9. A Revolutionary Dietary Paradigm: New Cookbook Features A SOS-free (Salt, Oil, Sugar ) Diet That Delivers the Optimal Food Plan for Renewing Health
10. 13 Free Weight Loss Secrets Program Kicks-Off
11. Frumpy and Frustrated Moms Can Now Get Free Help Losing Weight
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/25/2017)... ... ... Month and the focus is on prostate cancer. Second only to skin cancer, prostate ... common cause of cancer related death today; lung cancer remains in the number one spot. ... during his lifetime. Those at highest risk are men who have a family ...
(Date:6/24/2017)... ... ... Doorknobs are for convenience, deadbolts are for security. , There are many ... an alarm system installed. But unless there is a working deadbolt lock that is ... Premier Locksmith in Killeen, TX says: “In the majority of home burglaries, intruders use ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 24, 2017 , ... Studies show evidence that carotenoids and antioxidants derived ... loss in these patients. , But how often do ophthalmologists and optometrists in Sweden ... at risk of or with early symptoms of AMD? A study published recently ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... ... Goodcents Deli Fresh Subs today announced the opening of a new restaurant ... Topeka, Kan. 66604 (near 21st and Gage). It is owned and operated by long-time ... in the Topeka and Bonner Springs, Kan. area. , “Goodcents has such a ...
(Date:6/23/2017)... ... June 23, 2017 , ... MD Now Urgent ... is MD Now’s 28th facility overall and marks the urgent care center's eighth location ... mile North of The Falls shopping mall. The new clinic offers a wide array ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/7/2017)... 7, 2017  Novavax, Inc., (Nasdaq: NVAX ) ... 2 trials of its RSV F protein recombinant nanoparticle vaccine ... have been published in the journal Vaccine ... in prior scientific conferences). The Company previously announced top ... is developing the RSV F Vaccine with the goal of ...
(Date:6/2/2017)... , June 2, 2017  NxStage Medical, Inc. (Nasdaq:  NXTM), a ... today announced new findings demonstrating positive biochemical outcomes related ... System One™. The data will be presented at the ... Madrid, Spain . The ... Home Dialysis Network in Europe ...
(Date:5/29/2017)... -- Cellect Biotechnology Ltd. (NASDAQ: APOP ; TASE: APOP), ... selection of stem cells, today provided a corporate update ... March 31 st , 2017. "We ... quarter of 2017," said Dr. Shai Yarkoni, Chief Executive ... of the first blood cancer patient in the recently ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: