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Conscious Cogn. 2016 Jan;39:38-47. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2015.11.011. Epub 2015 Dec 9.

Readiness potentials driven by non-motoric processes.

Author information

1
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College, HB 6207 Moore Hall, Hanover, NH 03755, USA. Electronic address: scottiealexander11@gmail.com.
2
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College, HB 6207 Moore Hall, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.
3
Philosophy Department and Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University, Box 90432, Durham, NC 27708, USA.
4
Department of Philosophy, Dartmouth College, HB 6035 Thornton Hall, Hanover, NH 03755, USA.

Abstract

An increase in brain activity known as the "readiness potential" (RP) can be seen over central scalp locations in the seconds leading up to a volitionally timed movement. This activity precedes awareness of the ensuing movement by as much as two seconds and has been hypothesized to reflect preconscious planning and/or preparation of the movement. Using a novel experimental design, we teased apart the relative contribution of motor-related and non-motor-related processes to the RP. The results of our experiment reveal that robust RPs occured in the absence of movement and that motor-related processes did not significantly modulate the RP. This suggests that the RP measured here is unlikely to reflect preconscious motor planning or preparation of an ensuing movement, and instead may reflect decision-related or anticipatory processes that are non-motoric in nature.

KEYWORDS:

Consciousness; Free will; Libet; Readiness potential; Volition

PMID:
26678844
DOI:
10.1016/j.concog.2015.11.011
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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