Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 14, No 1 (2018)

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Voluntary Action, Conscious Will, and Readiness Potential

Syamala D. Hari

Abstract


Libet and colleagues, and later many others investigated brain activity during voluntary action. They found that electrophysiological "readiness potentials" (RPs) precede awareness of intention to act (W). They also found that awareness of actually moving i.e., initiation of motor command (M) follows W, and action follows M; after W, the decision to act can be consciously vetoed until the action actually starts. Libet proposed that one's brain initiates voluntary acts but not one's conscious will, and that conscious will can still control the outcome by vetoing the action. In this article, we explain why the above experimental observations (RP start, W, M, conscious veto) occur in the order they do, using the two-time interpretation of quantum mechanics. We take into account the general and objective observation that a voluntary action needs to use information pertaining to the desired future state (to go to New York, I take a train to New York not to Philadelphia). This observation is confirmed by cognitive scientists as they state that the mental image of the future must become the content of the present memory as a prerequisite to such action and that our brains are endowed with the ability to create ‘memories of the future', i.e., neural models of something that, as of yet does not exist but which we want to bring into existence.

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