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 Scientists Spot Brain's 'Free Will' Center

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Aaron
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PostSubject: Scientists Spot Brain's 'Free Will' Center   Thu Oct 02, 2008 10:03 am

Interesting...

Quote :
Scientists Spot Brain's 'Free Will' Center
It helps people refrain from actions good and bad, experts say.

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter
Mar. 23

THURSDAY, Aug. 23 (HealthDay News) -- If you've ever been of "two minds" about doing something, a new study may explain why.

Scientists say one part of the brain is responsible for initiating action, while a totally separate area is in charge of not taking that action.

This newly identified region, involved in an aspect of self-control, may change conceptions of human free will, the researchers said. It could also explain the basis of impulsive as well as reluctant behavior, they added.

"The central issue is quite simple. If we want to do something, and we decide not to, how does that brain wire that?" said Rajesh Miranda, associate professor of neuroscience and experimental therapeutics at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine. "They showed the region in the brain that can act as a gate to suppress a plan to do something," said Miranda, who was not involved in the research.

"The big search in neuroscience is, are there general inhibiting or specific inhibiting circuits?" added another outside expert, Dr. John Hart, a spokesman for the American Academy of Neurology and a behavioral neurologist and cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Dallas. "This is another piece of the puzzle. . . . but does it generalize beyond that task to all life decisions? That has yet to be shown," he said.

This study and others like it are really in their infancy, Miranda pointed out. That's important to remember, since the findings could one day have legal and other implications.

"This kind of data could have implications for legal definitions of 'diminished capacity,' " he explained. "There's a potential for informing legal definitions of mental illness and things like that."

The study, which was published in the Aug. 22 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience, was conducted by researchers from University College London, in the United Kingdom, the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, and Ghent University, Belgium.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers studied the brain activity of participants in two situations -- when they acted out as they had planned, or when they decided not to follow their original intention.

Fifteen right-handed individuals (seven males and eight females, average age 26) participated in a "go-no-go" exercise. They were asked to press a button on a keyboard but first to indicate what time they were going to perform this action. They were also asked to choose instances in which they stopped before actually pressing the button.

When participants decided not to press the button, a specific area of the frontal lobe region of the brain lit up. When participants followed through, however, the area did not light up.

The executive-function frontal lobes, which have previously been identified with inhibition, are part of what makes humans human, neurologists say.

"These areas are the most expanded in humans as compared to animals," explained Dr. Kimford Meador, spokesman for the American Academy of Neurology and professor of neurology at the University of Florida, Gainesville. "The frontal lobe is important for initiation, for planning, personality, creativity."

It goes on here...
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Healthday/story?id=4508400&page=1

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PostSubject: Re: Scientists Spot Brain's 'Free Will' Center   Wed Oct 08, 2008 11:23 pm

Quote :
Scientists say one part of the brain is responsible for initiating action, while a totally separate area is in charge of not taking that action.

This is why I believe that our FreeWill is limited to negative choices. The human body/brain works on auto-pilot most of the time. And our actions are usually motivated by sub-conscious calculations of options. Generally those pre-conscious "decisions" are already in the process of being carried-out before the conscious mind is aware of the "intended" behavior. Therefore, the frontal lobes can either sanction the action by doing nothing, or override the proposal with an executive veto.

That ain't much freedom, but it seems to be all we've got. Everything else is Destiny or Fate . . . or God's Will.

Self-control is like the captain of the Titanic trying to turn the ship before it hits the iceberg. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: Scientists Spot Brain's 'Free Will' Center   Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:07 am

I hate to be an "I told you so" - but, well... I did. Smile

(Not "you" to anyone in particular, but just that I've always gotten lots of grief for stating that free will is an illusion of the mind)
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PostSubject: Re: Scientists Spot Brain's 'Free Will' Center   Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:19 am

But even having the ability to not take action is an act of will.

Isn't it?

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PostSubject: Re: Scientists Spot Brain's 'Free Will' Center   Thu Oct 09, 2008 9:53 am

Sure, the point being that at every turn choice is limited, directed, and manipulated by factors outside of our control.

And even our 'choice' is apparently affected by physiological and environmental conditions that we cannot control, and often times don't even know exist.
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PostSubject: Re: Scientists Spot Brain's 'Free Will' Center   Thu Oct 09, 2008 11:22 am

True.

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PostSubject: Re: Scientists Spot Brain's 'Free Will' Center   Thu Oct 09, 2008 1:32 pm

Uriah wrote:

(Not "you" to anyone in particular, but just that I've always gotten lots of grief for stating that free will is an illusion of the mind)

Actually the old idea of absolute "FREEWILL" has always been an idealistic illusion held only by a few relatively free, and self-assured, people at the top of the power curve. That's why most common people humbly accepted that Fate was really in control of their pathetic world, leaving them little choice in their own lives. Until the 20th century though, they were all unaware that a spooky sub-consciousness mind was running the show behind the scenes, and the conscious mind was taking all the credit or blame for individual behavior.

But the new understanding of limited "free choice" indicates that human consciousness does play a real and necessary role in the operation of the auto-pilot brain. Like referees in a football game, the superego is not there to play the game, but to enforce the (moral) rules. Athletes and meditators have learned that it's usually better for the conscious mind to stay out of the way of the more efficient sub-conscious processes.

However, sometimes the automatic system reaches a fork in the road, and an arbitrary decision is needed to break the deadlock. More often than not, the fork is a moral quandary between what I emotionally want to do, and what I rationally should do. In such cases, the conscious mind does have the power to override instinctive Wants with rational Will. So, as a general rule our conscious, hence free, will is limited to moral choices.
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PostSubject: Re: Scientists Spot Brain's 'Free Will' Center   Sat Oct 11, 2008 2:46 pm

I beleive in learned resiliance as a trait all can obtain. Through learing from others and having a devoted teacher one can truly have free will. Though our life condition tends to constrict norm options case to case we each can in fact choose to take or not take action. The use of reason and learning from those who have more eknowledge on truths application can open doors to those behind us. In my human conditions paper I describe this as a man making a path to climp a mountain. Those behind him now can use the footholds he has created, avoid those that cause him to slip, or create their own as they reach for the mountaintop.
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PostSubject: Re: Scientists Spot Brain's 'Free Will' Center   Mon Feb 15, 2010 10:20 pm

No-one really has true free will but that doesn't mean we're puppets either as we're all equally part of physical processes of the universe. This is a good extract on the subject.

"No free will

A naturalistic understanding connects the human organism to the larger physical world in all respects, via genetics and environmental influences. Since we donít, on this understanding, exist as independent, immaterial agents directing our behavior from a causally disconnected vantage point, this means we donít have free will in the traditional sense. We cannot have done other than what we did in a given situation.

This means that persons are not first causes, rather they are links in the natural unfolding of the world in space and time. As much as we experience ourselves as separate egos, deliberating our fates one decision at a time, our very deliberations are entirely included in this unfolding.

This insight may at first disturb us, since we might suppose we are nothing more than passive puppets, moved at the whim of forces beyond our control. But we are not even puppets, since there is no one separate from the various forces, processes, and states that comprise the person-environment complex to be pushed around. We are, in fact, fully connected parts of the whole, identifiable as separate persons to be sure, but neither causal masters nor victims.

The psychological consequences of this realization are manifold. Without giving up the sense of our own identity and particularity (pretty much impossible, short of profound experiences of ego loss, which may themselves be of value in the right context) we feel a deep connection to the world around us, since that world is, after all, where each aspect of ourselves originates. A relaxation ensues from letting go of the illusion that we must continually "steer" ourselves through life, from realizing that our decisions themselves arise on their own out of the circumstances that constitute our body and its environment. We donít choose our character or motives from some independent vantage point; they are the creations of life and culture themselves, not the artifacts of a causally autonomous ego. Freed from the burden of being our own creators, we nevertheless donít passively resign ourselves to fate, since we understand that as creatures fully embedded in the world, our actions do indeed have causal effects which sometimes make all the difference. The naturalistic dismantling of free will frees thus connects us and liberates us: we are parts of the evolving whole that can witness the evolution and add interesting twists to the outcome by virtue of the capacities that life has given us. But since we are such parts, we can let go of the rather arrogant and ultimately disabling presumption that we stand outside creation. As Alan Watts said, You Are It, and the direct appreciation of this connectedness becomes part of a naturalistic spirituality."
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PostSubject: Re: Scientists Spot Brain's 'Free Will' Center   Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:18 pm

Sigma wrote:
"No free will"
This analysis of dismantled freewill is compatible with my own understanding of freewill within determinism. Hence,"our actions do indeed have causal effects". Where did you get the quote?
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Sigma



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PostSubject: Re: Scientists Spot Brain's 'Free Will' Center   Wed Feb 17, 2010 1:39 pm

The quote was from a site on the subject of Naturalism.

http://www.naturalism.org/naturali.htm
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