Neural precursors of deliberate and arbitrary decisions in the study of voluntar

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sciborg2

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« on: March 18, 2019, 04:22:28 pm »
Neural precursors of deliberate and arbitrary decisions in the study of voluntary action

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Abstract

The readiness potential (RP)—a key ERP correlate of upcoming action—is known to precede subjects’ reports of their decision to move. Some view this as evidence against a causal role for consciousness in human decision-making and thus against free-will. Yet those studies focused on arbitrary decisions—purposeless, unreasoned, and without consequences. It remains unknown to what degree the RP generalizes to deliberate, more ecological decisions. We directly compared deliberate and arbitrary decision-making during a $1000-donation task to non-profit organizations. While we found the expected RPs for arbitrary decisions, they were strikingly absent for deliberate ones. Our results and drift-diffusion model are congruent with the RP representing accumulation of noisy, random fluctuations that drive arbitrary—but not deliberate—decisions. They further point to different neural mechanisms underlying deliberate and arbitrary decisions, challenging the generalizability of studies that argue for no causal role for consciousness in decision-making to real-life decisions.


Significance Statement:

 The extent of human free will has been debated for millennia. Previous studies demonstrated that neural precursors of action—especially the readiness potential—precede subjects’ reports of deciding to move. Some viewed this as evidence against free-will. However, these experiments focused on arbitrary decisions—e.g., randomly raising the left or right hand. We directly compared deliberate (actual $1000 donations to NPOs) and arbitrary decisions, and found readiness potentials before arbitrary decisions, but—critically—not before deliberate decisions. This supports the interpretation of readiness potentials as byproducts of accumulation of random fluctuations in arbitrary but not deliberate decisions and points to different neural mechanisms underlying deliberate and arbitrary choice. Hence, it challenges the generalizability of previous results from arbitrary to deliberate decisions.
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TLEILAXU

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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2019, 08:15:56 pm »
Haven't read it (and not going to for a few days coz' busy) but let me just say that I'm happy to see biorxiv links brought up here!

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« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2019, 04:01:50 pm »
To say that I barely understand the full implication here would be vastly charitable, but I'll venture out on the limb and say this might imply that consciousness is a sort of meditative "agent" in "deliberate decisions."

So, when one thinks, and thinks about thinking, and then acts on that thinking, consciousness does seem to have a role.  So, in this way, perhaps this is the point of consciousness?  A recursive, "calculus" of sorts, to mediate (and influence) the notion of "future" to the notion of action?
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

sciborg2

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« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2019, 06:19:58 pm »
To say that I barely understand the full implication here would be vastly charitable, but I'll venture out on the limb and say this might imply that consciousness is a sort of meditative "agent" in "deliberate decisions."

So, when one thinks, and thinks about thinking, and then acts on that thinking, consciousness does seem to have a role.  So, in this way, perhaps this is the point of consciousness?  A recursive, "calculus" of sorts, to mediate (and influence) the notion of "future" to the notion of action?

If by consciousness you mean a metaphysically neutral extended decision making process then yeah if replicated it would be an indication of such.

If you mean something specifically not under Physicalism then I suspect the answer - without saying anything affirming or denying metaphysics - no dice. I say this b/c one of the long standing critics of Libet-type experiments is the physicalist/materialist Daniel Dennet.
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« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2019, 06:31:31 pm »
To say that I barely understand the full implication here would be vastly charitable, but I'll venture out on the limb and say this might imply that consciousness is a sort of meditative "agent" in "deliberate decisions."

So, when one thinks, and thinks about thinking, and then acts on that thinking, consciousness does seem to have a role.  So, in this way, perhaps this is the point of consciousness?  A recursive, "calculus" of sorts, to mediate (and influence) the notion of "future" to the notion of action?

If by consciousness you mean a metaphysically neutral extended decision making process then yeah if replicated it would be an indication of such.

If you mean something specifically not under Physicalism then I suspect the answer - without saying anything affirming or denying metaphysics - no dice. I say this b/c one of the long standing critics of Libet-type experiments is the physicalist/materialist Daniel Dennet.

The heart of the matter being, of course, that I am not sure what I am saying.

It's unclear to me if the sort of recursive thing would not just be another layer of physicalism.  In that sense, I don't know that it would be outside, say, the chain of cause and effect.  However, it does rely then on something non-physical, which is mental representation.  Which, the basis of is likely physical in some sense, but the content of which is not.  So, I don't know what that would count as.

In a nut shell, I should probably let the adults talk about this...
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira

sciborg2

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« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2019, 06:39:36 pm »
To say that I barely understand the full implication here would be vastly charitable, but I'll venture out on the limb and say this might imply that consciousness is a sort of meditative "agent" in "deliberate decisions."

So, when one thinks, and thinks about thinking, and then acts on that thinking, consciousness does seem to have a role.  So, in this way, perhaps this is the point of consciousness?  A recursive, "calculus" of sorts, to mediate (and influence) the notion of "future" to the notion of action?

If by consciousness you mean a metaphysically neutral extended decision making process then yeah if replicated it would be an indication of such.

If you mean something specifically not under Physicalism then I suspect the answer - without saying anything affirming or denying metaphysics - no dice. I say this b/c one of the long standing critics of Libet-type experiments is the physicalist/materialist Daniel Dennet.

The heart of the matter being, of course, that I am not sure what I am saying.

It's unclear to me if the sort of recursive thing would not just be another layer of physicalism.  In that sense, I don't know that it would be outside, say, the chain of cause and effect.  However, it does rely then on something non-physical, which is mental representation.  Which, the basis of is likely physical in some sense, but the content of which is not.  So, I don't know what that would count as.

In a nut shell, I should probably let the adults talk about this...

Ah you are an adult though in that you are working to reason these things out, and from what I've seen nobody has a good handle on these matters.

Putnam and Popper have made arguments against conceptual thought being reducible to what is usually regarded as physical, at least as moderns define the term.
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« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2019, 06:51:48 pm »
Ah you are an adult though in that you are working to reason these things out, and from what I've seen nobody has a good handle on these matters.

Putnam and Popper have made arguments against conceptual thought being reducible to what is usually regarded as physical, at least as moderns define the term.

Yeah, I think that is the position I'd be likely to take, because it doesn't seem clear to me that there must be a direct and necessary physical mapping of neuronal activity to the content of thought.

So, in a way, perhaps it could be that neuron-group X firing in a particular way in your brain means something in particular, where neuron-group X firing in my brain something different.  If it's true that certain brain parts do align with certain brain function (so group X is associated with moving hand Y) that doesn't necessarily mean that the mental contents are identical.

In this way, perhaps consciousness, as recursive, compounds what likely start as minor differences into demonstrable different behaviors (and mental contents).
“I am a warrior of ages, Anasûrimbor . . . ages. I have dipped my nimil in a thousand hearts. I have ridden both against and for the No-God in the great wars that authored this wilderness. I have scaled the ramparts of great Golgotterath, watched the hearts of High Kings break for fury.” -Cet’ingira