Episode 22

The Neuroscience of Free Will: Guest Aaron Schurger


December 12th, 2019

57 mins 12 secs

Season 1

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About this Episode

Guest Dr. Aaron Schurger talks to us about his research on the meaning of the "readiness potential", which has been referred to as "the brain signature of the will". Although this neural signal was already famous from research in the 1960s, it was Benjamin Libet's infamous experiments in the 1980s that proportedly showed that the readiness potential preceded an act of free will by a few hundred milliseconds. More recently (in press), Dr. Schurger and his colleagues have convincingly demonstrated that the readiness potential is not in fact predictive of an act of free will, but instead comes from a lack of a proper experimental control.


Here is what a classifier is (a topic that comes up that may be unfamiliar to some).
For advanced readers, check out AdaBoost, a tool that increases performance in classifiers and other types of machine learning.

"The Time Course of Neural Activity Predictive of Impending Movement" (Basbug, Schapire, & Schurger, TO BE PUBLISHED SOON)
An accumulator model for spontaneous neural activity prior to self-initiated movement (Schurger, Sitt, & Dehaene, 2012)

Unconscious cerebral initiative and the role of conscious will in voluntary action (Libet's 1985 experiments)

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