Re: Consciousness and Causality

From: Crumley, Donna (
Date: Sat May 25 1996 - 14:43:14 BST

Describe Libet's findings on the timing of a decision to move.

Libet was interested in the association between the timing of
corresponding mental and physical events. He did experiments to find
out if people's will to move came before or after their readiness to
move. He asked participants to move their arm whenever they wanted to
and also to say at what point a dot was at on a clock face when they
made the 'conscious decision' to move. He found however that there was
a dissociation between the timing of the corresponding 'mental' and
'physical' events. The 'conscious decision' lagged between 350 and 400
msec behind the onset of 'readiness potentials'. The readiness
potential was found by recording scalp electrodes which tap the neural
events which determine the voluntary actions performed. These results
seem to suggest that ones conscious might lag behind the brain
processes that control ones body, which when you think about it is
quite a logical conclusion especially as there is very little evidence
to suggest that consciousness is a cause.
Libet himself concludes that:
"Cerebal initiation of a spontaneous voluntary act begins

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