The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 20 No. 2 • March 2017


WHERE MOST OF THE WORK IS DONE BEFORE YOU KNOW IT

John-Dylan Haynes (*** see quote just above) is a scientist who studies decision making in the areas of the brain that process information without your conscious knowledge. In a fairly recent study, Dr. Haynes and his collaborators determined what areas of the brain were involved in making a decision by human subjects to press a button (Soon, 2008). The conscious motor decision took place after activity in other brain areas was detected. “The predictive information in the fMRI [functional magnetic resonance imaging] signals from this brain region [frontopolar cortex] was already present 7s before the subject’s motor decision. Taking into account the sluggishness of BOLD [blood oxygen level-dependent] responses, the predictive neural information will have preceded the conscious motor decision by up to 10s.” “Thus, there appears to be a double dissociation in the very early stages between brain regions shaping the specific outcome of the motor decision and brain regions determining the timing of a motor decision.”

“… it has been argued that the brain had already unconsciously made a decision to move even before the subject became aware of it (Soon, 2008).”

Indeed, as Dr. Haynes said. By the time consciousness kicks in, most of the work has already been done.”

Reference

Soon, Brass, Heinze, & Haynes. Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain. Nature Neurosci. 11(5):543-5 (2008).

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