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Björn Brembs 
http://brembs.net 
Universität Regensburg
“Mental states are always brain states, meaning physical states” 
Hans Flohr, neurobiologist
No empirical evidence
“I could have done otherwise” 
Taylor & Dennett 2002
“We could often have done otherwise than we in fact did” 
Searle 1984
“If we choose to remain at rest, we may; if we choose to move, we also may” 
David Hume (1711-1776)
We have it, but it‘s biology, not magic
Source: Ken Catania
Reproducibility is not evolutionary stable
H. geographicus 
Variability in jumping 
Royan et al., 2010 
M. trinitatis
Romuald Nargeot
“The freedom of the will consists in the impossibility of knowing actions that still lie in the future” 
Ludwig Wittgenste...
Under carefully controlled experimental circumstances, an animal will behave as it damn well pleases.
Behavioral variability in a constant stimulus situation: 
Actions, not responses
Decisions or just noise in complex stimulus-response systems?
Geometric Random Inner Products: GRIP 
All computations Alexander Maye, UKE Hamburg (Maye et al. 2007)
Maye et al. (2007) 
If one simple stochastic point process is insufficient, maybe we need more…
Source: This is Spinal Tap
Phototaxis: Gáspár Jékely 
Polychaete: Platynereis dumerilii 
Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology
Pelagial 
Benthal 
LIGHT 
PRESSURE 
GRAVITY 
CHEMICALS 
TEMPERATURE 
SALINITY
G Jékely et al. Nature 456, 395-399 (2008) doi:10.1038/nature07590
α-FVRIamide α-acTub
Ongoing activity inhibited/modified by stimuli
The limiting factor in the evolution of brain size was energy supply 42
43 
The additional energy burden associated with […] the environment may be as little as .5-1.0% of the total energy budge...
Ongoing activity inhibited/modified by stimuli
Action – Outcome Evaluation
=
Jonathan Wolpaw
Wolpaw TINS (1997) + later data
Wolpaw et al, 1984&94; Carp et al, 2006; Wolf et al, 1995
Deterministic
Stochastic
Deterministic
Deterministic
Deterministic
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
The biological nature of free will
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The biological nature of free will

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Presentation at the Goethe Institute in Bangalore India, Oct. 31, 2014

Published in: Science

The biological nature of free will

  1. 1. Björn Brembs http://brembs.net Universität Regensburg
  2. 2. “Mental states are always brain states, meaning physical states” Hans Flohr, neurobiologist
  3. 3. No empirical evidence
  4. 4. “I could have done otherwise” Taylor & Dennett 2002
  5. 5. “We could often have done otherwise than we in fact did” Searle 1984
  6. 6. “If we choose to remain at rest, we may; if we choose to move, we also may” David Hume (1711-1776)
  7. 7. We have it, but it‘s biology, not magic
  8. 8. Source: Ken Catania
  9. 9. Reproducibility is not evolutionary stable
  10. 10. H. geographicus Variability in jumping Royan et al., 2010 M. trinitatis
  11. 11. Romuald Nargeot
  12. 12. “The freedom of the will consists in the impossibility of knowing actions that still lie in the future” Ludwig Wittgenstein
  13. 13. Under carefully controlled experimental circumstances, an animal will behave as it damn well pleases.
  14. 14. Behavioral variability in a constant stimulus situation: Actions, not responses
  15. 15. Decisions or just noise in complex stimulus-response systems?
  16. 16. Geometric Random Inner Products: GRIP All computations Alexander Maye, UKE Hamburg (Maye et al. 2007)
  17. 17. Maye et al. (2007) If one simple stochastic point process is insufficient, maybe we need more…
  18. 18. Source: This is Spinal Tap
  19. 19. Phototaxis: Gáspár Jékely Polychaete: Platynereis dumerilii Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology
  20. 20. Pelagial Benthal LIGHT PRESSURE GRAVITY CHEMICALS TEMPERATURE SALINITY
  21. 21. G Jékely et al. Nature 456, 395-399 (2008) doi:10.1038/nature07590
  22. 22. α-FVRIamide α-acTub
  23. 23. Ongoing activity inhibited/modified by stimuli
  24. 24. The limiting factor in the evolution of brain size was energy supply 42
  25. 25. 43 The additional energy burden associated with […] the environment may be as little as .5-1.0% of the total energy budget. Marcus Raichle (2006): Science 314, p1249
  26. 26. Ongoing activity inhibited/modified by stimuli
  27. 27. Action – Outcome Evaluation
  28. 28. =
  29. 29. Jonathan Wolpaw
  30. 30. Wolpaw TINS (1997) + later data
  31. 31. Wolpaw et al, 1984&94; Carp et al, 2006; Wolf et al, 1995
  32. 32. Deterministic
  33. 33. Stochastic
  34. 34. Deterministic
  35. 35. Deterministic
  36. 36. Deterministic

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