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Free will influenced by ‘neural noise’

Where does our ability to make free choices originate? In electrical brain patterns or ‘neural noise’ according to scientists from the University of California-Davis.

According to the research team, including Jesse Bengson, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Mind and Brain at UC Davis, the neural noise made by patterns of electrical activity that fluctuate across the brain is important for our perception, cognition and decision-making. It is also behind our ability to make involuntary choices.

the study, the electrical brain activity of participants was measured while they made a decision to press a switch in response to a visual cue. The researchers say that just before participants reported that they were going to press the switch, they demonstrated specific brain patterns. It was possible for researchers to predict a study participant’s decision based on the electrical brain patterns or neural noise that occurred before he made a decision.

According to Bengson, the results show how brain activity may influence free will. Unlike previous studies, the latest one was able to determine the exact point of time at which decisions were being made in the brain. “We know people aren’t making the decision in advance,” Bengson adds.

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