Experts from Harvard claim to have ‘crystallized’ the exact moment when the brain decides to perform an action or desire. This moment is not the same as the one when we think we have taken the decision. So does it mean that someone else ultimately take the decisions before we do?
In fact, the decisions are taken by the parts of the brain which “host” the subconscious, which has already made up its mind and announced it to the consciousness, located in another brain area. That is we learn later what our brain has decided for us.
Speaking at the Festival of the British Neuroscience Association, professor of ophthalmology and neurology specialist Gabriel Kreiman explains that “the problem of free will has been discussed for millennia. Philosophers and scientists conclude that the intention was and is always free. However, they did not ask neuroscientists…”
In the study, the experts asked epileptic patients, who had electrodes placed in their brains, to press the button of the computer mouse with the right index finger and tell them the exact moment when they took the decision to perform this task.
“What we saw as the result of this experiment is that there is a gradual and progressive increase in brain activity when a person actually takes a decision. However, this occurs before any activity of the consciousness manifests itself. So the brain takes decisions before the person himself realizes it. Thus, with the evolution of neurosurgery we will be able to learn a decision a few milliseconds before it is taken,” explains Dr. Kreiman.
So is this really our choice or just an illusion of free will? If we are absent from our own decisions, since we can not control our subconscious, perhaps this is the end of the discussion about free will? “Maybe not yet,” say the experts.