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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Oct 16;115(42):10792-10797. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1814117115. Epub 2018 Oct 1.

Lesion network localization of free will.

Darby RR1,2,3, Joutsa J2,4,5,6, Burke MJ2, Fox MD7,3,4.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232; darby.ryan@gmail.com foxmdphd@gmail.com.
2
Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation, Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical Center, Boston, MA 02215.
3
Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02214.
4
Athinoula A. Martinos Centre for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusett General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA 02129.
5
Department of Neurology, University of Turku, 20520, Turku, Finland.
6
Division of Clinical Neurosciences, Turku University Hospital, 20520, Turku, Finland.
7
Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation, Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical Center, Boston, MA 02215; darby.ryan@gmail.com foxmdphd@gmail.com.

Abstract

Our perception of free will is composed of a desire to act (volition) and a sense of responsibility for our actions (agency). Brain damage can disrupt these processes, but which regions are most important for free will perception remains unclear. Here, we study focal brain lesions that disrupt volition, causing akinetic mutism (n = 28), or disrupt agency, causing alien limb syndrome (n = 50), to better localize these processes in the human brain. Lesion locations causing either syndrome were highly heterogeneous, occurring in a variety of different brain locations. We next used a recently validated technique termed lesion network mapping to determine whether these heterogeneous lesion locations localized to specific brain networks. Lesion locations causing akinetic mutism all fell within one network, defined by connectivity to the anterior cingulate cortex. Lesion locations causing alien limb fell within a separate network, defined by connectivity to the precuneus. Both findings were specific for these syndromes compared with brain lesions causing similar physical impairments but without disordered free will. Finally, our lesion-based localization matched network localization for brain stimulation locations that disrupt free will and neuroimaging abnormalities in patients with psychiatric disorders of free will without overt brain lesions. Collectively, our results demonstrate that lesions in different locations causing disordered volition and agency localize to unique brain networks, lending insight into the neuroanatomical substrate of free will perception.

KEYWORDS:

agency; free will; functional connectivity; lesions; volition

PMID:
30275309
PMCID:
PMC6196503
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1814117115
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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