40
   

Is free-will an illusion?

 
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Sun 20 Dec, 2015 02:54 am
@Briancrc,
Not sure i understand your question well. IF there is such a feeling or general disposition called the "Christmass spirit" -- triggered in a pavlovian way by sights of Christmas decorations and lulabies and made of renewed empathy and love for our neighbours, hope for the future, etc. -- then this disposition doesn't float in the world disembodied; it MUST be associated to or supported by some neuronal structure or another.

I grant you that it might be supported by totally different parts of the brain in persons X and Y, which is why the idea of building a helmet that would create the chritmas spirit in people lacking it is totally goofy and impossible.

BUT how is this neurologic experiment fundamentally different from those trying to uncover the neuronal basis for free will, pray tell?
Briancrc
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 04:39 am
@Olivier5,
Quote:
IF there is such a feeling or general disposition called the "Christmass spirit" -- triggered in a pavlovian way by sights of Christmas decorations and lulabies and made of renewed empathy and love for our neighbours, hope for the future, etc. -- then this disposition doesn't float in the world disembodied; it MUST be associated to or supported by some neuronal structure or another


The Pavlovian model deals with reflex responses so I wouldn't try to relate it to this example. When conditioning takes place I do think that there are changes that take place within the person (organism). Environmental stimuli seem to cause neuronal activity. I imagine that the more recent discoveries of the effects of electrical stimulation transcranially have something to do with instigating these neuronal activities (possibly) in the absence of the environmental stimuli. The number of YouTube videos on this kind of thing is why I said I could believe in the Santa hat idea. Whether the activities in these areas have anything to do with explorations into the idea of free will is nothing that I have seen. If that is true, then I'm ignorant to it.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 09:03 am
@Briancrc,
Therefore there could be neuronal structures asdociated with the "xmas spirit".

The hat is on of the main non-serious elements of the article.

Important to try and understand why you reacted in disbelief initially. The authors are making a powerful joke in that they criticize other neuroscience experiments. What they are saying is: It's very easy to find whatever you want to find in a MRI brain scan. Even if what you look for is as improbable as the chritmas spirit. So don't believe all you read...
cicerone imposter
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 02:42 pm
@Olivier5,
Oh, shucks! There goes my christmas 'spirit.'
0 Replies
 
Briancrc
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Dec, 2015 06:17 pm
@Olivier5,
Quote:
Even if what you look for is as improbable as the chritmas spirit. So don't believe all you read...


Well, thanks for that sage advice.

Quote:
Therefore there could be neuronal structures asdociated with the "xmas spirit".


Now what was that you were saying about not believing everything you read? Laughing

Of course the Santa hat comment was a joke. But if you are not aware of what people have been up to that bears an uncanny resemblance to the description in the article, you should poke around on YouTube for a bit and check out the devices that people are constructing.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Wed 23 Dec, 2015 01:14 am
@Briancrc,
It would be nice if each and every MRI experiment posted here would be submitted to even half the scrutinity spent on the christmass spirit prank, instead of being swallowed hoock line and sinker... :-)
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Mon 28 Dec, 2015 07:28 am
This is STILL interesting:

0 Replies
 
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2016 07:25 am
I had suggested a similar experiment a few months ago. Glad to see someone has been working on this. And they found out that our intuitive, introspective sense of what taking a decision looks like, is basically valid, and that the Benjamin Libet experiments about the "readines potential" CANNOT be interpreted as denying free will.

That was to be expected, but it's great news nevertheless. :-)

Quote:
The point of no return in vetoing self-initiated movements
Matthias Schultze-Krafta et al.

Many studies have shown that movements are preceded by early brain signals. There has been a debate as to whether subjects can still cancel a movement after onset of these early signals. We tested whether subjects can win a “duel” against a brain–computer interface designed to predict their movements in real time from observations of their EEG activity. Our findings suggest that subjects can exert a “veto” even after onset of this preparatory process.

The human participants were able to somehow, in the last split second, change their minds and veto their non-conscious decision.

“A person’s decisions are not at the mercy of unconscious and early brain waves. They are able to actively intervene in the decision-making process and interrupt a movement,” Professor Haynes explains according to the press release. “Previously people have used the preparatory brain signals to argue against free will. Our study now shows that the freedom is much less limited than previously thought.”

In humans, spontaneous movements are often preceded by early brain signals. One such signal is the readiness potential (RP) that gradually arises within the last second preceding a movement. An important question is whether people are able to cancel movements after the elicitation of such RPs, and if so until which point in time. Here, subjects played a game where they tried to press a button to earn points in a challenge with a brain–computer interface (BCI) that had been trained to detect their RPs in real time and to emit stop signals. Our data suggest that subjects can still veto a movement even after the onset of the RP. Cancellation of movements was possible if stop signals occurred earlier than 200 ms before movement onset, thus constituting a point of no return.

Full article: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/12/09/1513569112.full.pdf
Briancrc
 
  1  
Reply Thu 14 Jan, 2016 03:15 pm
@Olivier5,
Because what we do has come under the control of the environment (determined) is why it is possible to treat the host of problems with environmental modifications

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3297343/bin/jaba-45-01-21-f01.jpg

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3297335/bin/jaba-45-01-13-f01.jpg

If free will were true, then there would be no differences between the baselines and the subsequent phases. We are lucky that our behavior is determined.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3297343/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3297335/figure/jaba-45-01-13-f01/?report=objectonly
Olivier5
 
  -1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2016 01:28 am
@Briancrc,
No idea what this is about. Can't read the link on my device.
Olivier5
 
  -2  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2016 08:47 am
@Olivier5,
Okay, got it.

So people can be trained, hence they don't have free will? That's absurd.
Briancrc
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2016 10:49 am
@Olivier5,
Quote:
So people can be trained, hence they don't have free will? That's absurd.


No, either behavior comes under the control of the environment or it doesn't. There are tens of thousands of published studies over several decades that demonstrate environmental control of behavior. You want to believe that people are choosing whether or not to respond. With that simplistic belief you will not be able to explain why behavior changes when the environmental contingencies are unknown to the person whose behavior is changing.
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2016 10:58 am
@Briancrc,
It's the gene and environment.
Briancrc
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2016 11:05 am
@cicerone imposter,
I don't dispute that genetics (as well as culture) play important roles (and have explicitly stated so elsewhere). The data shared, however, only examine the role of environmental modifications in the demonstration of analyses (I.e., control of behavior).
Olivier5
 
  0  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2016 11:19 am
@Briancrc,
Quote:
No, either behavior comes under the control of the environment or it doesn't.

What is meant by "the environment" and "control" in this sentence?

Quote:
There are tens of thousands of published studies over several decades that demonstrate environmental control of behavior.

And there are also thousands of papers showing how specific behaviors can help control one's environment... It's a two-way street and can only be a two-way street. It's logically impossible otherwise.

Quote:
You want to believe that people are choosing whether or not to respond. With that simplistic belief you will not be able to explain why behavior changes when the environmental contingencies are unknown to the person whose behavior is changing.

Can you give an example of that?
cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2016 12:01 pm
@Briancrc,
We know that environment plays a big role, because culture is an important aspect of human life.
0 Replies
 
Briancrc
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2016 12:29 pm
@Olivier5,
Quote:
What is meant by "the environment" and "control" in this sentence?


The environment includes real circumstances in which a person (can be other organisms too) or referenced part of a person exists. It can also include other parts of an organism that are different from that which is the object of an inquiry.

Control means that behavior has organized around environmental contingencies. When there is no control, then a person may be doing what is called "trial and error".

Quote:
And there are also thousands of papers showing how specific behaviors can help control one's environment... It's a two-way street and can only be a two-way street. It's logically impossible otherwise.


Yes, it is a 2-way street. A parent controls a child as a child controls the parent. When a dog sits and you give it a treat, the dog sitting controls your treat-giving as much as your treat-giving controls the sitting. The free-willers only see one side of the event (a one-way street) .

Quote:
Can you give an example of that?


What other explanations for the referenced data do you see?
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2016 03:04 pm
@Briancrc,
I take it then that by "control", you mean what we call in plain English a "strong influence", a "strong incentive" or a "motive". Some signal or factor that "moves" one to do something that one wouldn't do otherwise.

The plain English meaning of "control" is stronger than yours. It implies first of all, in its most common use, a sense of purpose, of intentionality, and therefore the existence of a WILL imposed or forced upon another willing or non-willing entity. The idea of a willing entity (a person) being controlled by a non-willing one (like "the environment") sounds odd. For instance the phrase: "I'm controlled by the weather" sounds a bit odd. I suppose it would mean: "the weather has a very strong influence on me, on my mood and abilities of the day." Which is your meaning of the word, and it's a bit of a strech. In that sense of the word, "plant growth is controlled by the weather" can work somewhat.

Second, the lay meaning of "control" implies generally the use by the WILL mentioned above, of several "incentives" or "levers" in a purposeful combination to allow for greater control. You need at least a gaz pedal and a brake pedal and a steering wheel to control a car, a carrot and a stick for the proverbial donkey, several buttons on the remote control...

Third, it's hard to think of "control" as two-way. One can influence each-other but mutual control? Can that exist? Not if the first and second points above are accepted, because one will has to prevail on another for full control to exist

Hence my surprise at your use of the term... but you just meant "a strong influence"...

Quote:
What other explanations for the referenced data do you see?

I don't understand that data you posted.
Briancrc
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2016 04:43 pm
@Olivier5,
Quote:
The plain English meaning of "control" is stronger than yours


That's probably true. The use I gave for the word does not imply compelled or coerced to behave in a given way. A screw-on jar cover does not coerce cover-turning behavior. Past experience with the type of cover organizes the response.

Quote:
One can influence each-other but mutual control? Can that exist?


I think so. I think employees and employers control each other; teachers and students; parents and children. One group may have advantages over the other, but control happens both ways. This seems much the same as the 2-way selective effects that biology undergoes. cheetahs and antelopes have effects on one another. Cheetahs get faster and more efficient at killing, and antelopes get more agile and adept at evading and escaping. The effects on biology and the effects on behavior are influenced by outside forces.
Olivier5
 
  1  
Reply Sat 16 Jan, 2016 08:39 am
@Briancrc,
In other words, everything "controls" (influences) everything. So why would you think you can't have any influence?
 

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