Free will could be the result of ‘background noise’ in the brain, study suggests

Scientists at the University of California, Davis, found that decisions could be predicted based on patterns of brain activity
Free will could be the result of 'background noise' in the brain, study suggests

Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

by ANTONIA MOLLOY | London Independent | June 22, 2014


The concept of free will could be little more than the result of background noise in the brain, according to a recent study.

It has previously been suggested that our perceived ability to make autonomous choices is an illusion – and now scientists from the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis, have found that free will may actually be the result of electrical activity in the brain.

According to the research, published in theJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience, decisions could be predicted based on the pattern of brain activity immediately before a choice was made.

Volunteers in the study were asked to sit in front of a screen and focus on its central point while their brains’ electrical activity was recorded. They were then asked to make a decision to look either left or right when a cue symbol appeared on the 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.

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