Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Readiness Potential?

This, via Bee.  Random Brain Waves Save Free Will?
A new paper adds to the perennial free will debate, by casting doubt on the famous Libet experiment.

Back in 1983, neuroscientists led by Benjamin Libet found that, about two seconds before someone presses a button ‘of their own free will’, a negative electrical potential – dubbed the Readiness Potential (RP) – began to build up in the cortex. Their EEG study showed that the brain seemed to have ‘decided’ before the conscious mind did – bad news for free will.
Since then, the meaning of the RP has been extensively debated. But the new study by Han-Gue Jo and colleagues of Freiburg makes a strong case that the “RP” is not really a ‘thing’ at all.
Bee's interest is because of the implications or non-implications for free will.  My interest is just to point out  that the interpretation of this experiment is made difficult because what we have are correlations, we cannot trace from cause to effect.