Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Taking action, free will, and neuroscience

If you're interested in the science of how we make decisions, here's a link to a "Scientific American" interview with Michael S. Gazzaniga, a psychologist at UC Santa Barbara. It's not so clear, he says, that we even have free will:
Whatever your beliefs about free will, everyone feels like they have it, even those who dispute that it exists. What neuroscience has been showing us, however, is that it all works differently than how we feel it must work. For instance, neuroscientific experiments indicate that human decisions for action are made before the individual is consciously aware of them. Instead of this finding answering the age-old question of whether the brain decides before the mind decides, it makes us wonder if that is even the way to think about how the brain works.
For another view, take a look at "The Neuroeconomics Revolution" by Robert J. Shiller, a professor of economics at Yale.

And if you're really interested in the subject, I highly recommend In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind by Eric Kandel, for a great memoir/explanation of modern brain research.

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