Eurocogsci 2007 Presentation

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Free will and the power of veto: convergent evidence from decision-making

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Eurocogsci 2007 Presentation

  1. 1. Free will and the power of veto: Convergent evidence from Decision-Making Alex Linhares [email_address]
  2. 2. The traditional view of Free Will <ul><li>Compare & contrast choices </li></ul>
  3. 3. …is just like chess. However, <ul><li>But is this of any quality? </li></ul>
  4. 4. Ron “Suki” King, a checkers world champion <ul><li>385 opponents—simultaneously </li></ul><ul><li>He beat them all </li></ul><ul><li>2 seconds per move  12.30mins response </li></ul>
  5. 5. Capablanca’s remark <ul><li>“ I see only one move. The best one.” </li></ul><ul><li>Jos é Raul Capablanca </li></ul>
  6. 6. Gary Klein’s work <ul><li>Firefighters, nurses, jet pilots, radar operators, chess players, etc… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I never make decisions. I can’t remember a single decision” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ It is always obvious what to do” </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Recognition-primed decisions <ul><li>Experienced subjects unconsciously primed to act </li></ul><ul><li>Simulation heuristic  YES/NO response </li></ul>
  8. 8. Back to Free Will… <ul><li>Libet’s experimental settings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Complexity clock </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Readiness potential </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Suprising timing of events </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Libet’s experiment <ul><li>Libet wanted to contrast the times between (i) movement of the fingers, (ii) the start of the readiness potential, and (iii) the instant in which the conscious decision is taken… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>This instant can be measured with ‘Wundt’s compexity clock’, a moving dot (like a second’s pointer), performing one full cycle at each 2.56 secs. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Classic method in experimental psychology </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Very accurate: one hour  0.2 secs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>The results are clear... </li></ul>
  10. 11. In Libet’s words: <ul><li>“ the brain evidently ‘decides’ to initiate or, at least, to prepare to initiate an act before there is any reportable subjective awareness that such a decision has taken place”. </li></ul><ul><li>“ it is concluded that cerebral initiation even of a spontaneous voluntary act of the kind studied here can and usually does begin unconsciously”. </li></ul><ul><li>Brain 106 (1983) 623-42 </li></ul>
  11. 12. Veto theory: <ul><li>“ Potentially available to the conscious function is the possibility of […] vetoing the final progress of the volitional process[…]” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Conscious will might block or veto the process, so that no act occurs.” </li></ul><ul><li>Libet, B. (1999) Do we have free will? Journal of Consciousness Studies 6, 47—57. </li></ul>
  12. 13. If Klein is right, then what would the expected timing of neuro-events be like? <ul><li>Gary Klein </li></ul><ul><li>Subjects unconsciously primed to act; acts feel “obvious”; subjects cannot report on reasons; do not feel to be making decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Simulation heuristic vetoes a primed urge </li></ul><ul><li>Benjamin Libet </li></ul><ul><li>The brain initially prepares for an act, subjects only report conscious will to perform the act 250msec after onset of the RP </li></ul><ul><li>There is 100msec for an act to be “vetoed” </li></ul>

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