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Brain Scanners Can See Your Decisions Before You Make Them

April 15, 2008
clipped from www.wired.com


This schematic shows the brain regions (green) from which the outcome of a participant’s decision can be predicted before it is made.
Courtesy John-Dylan Haynes.



You may think you decided to read this story — but in fact, your brain made the decision long before you knew about it.


In a study published Sunday in Nature Neuroscience, researchers using brain scanners could predict people’s decisions seven seconds before the test subjects were even aware of making them.


The decision studied — whether to hit a button with one’s left or right hand — may not be representative of complicated choices that are more integrally tied to our sense of self-direction. Regardless, the findings raise profound questions about the nature of self and autonomy: How free is our will? Is conscious choice just an illusion?


“Your decisions are strongly prepared by brain activity. By the time consciousness kicks in, most of the work has already been done,
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