The US neurophysiologist Benjamin Libet discovered that the will to act follows the act
through experiments documented in some seminal papers such as "Production of threshold levels of conscious sensation by electrical stimulation of human somatosensory cortex" (1964) and
"Cortical Activation in Conscious and Unconscious Experience" (1965).
And in later experiments he estimated that the "readiness potential" precedes movement by about half a second, and awareness of this "decision to act" follows by about 300 milliseconds. The motor cortex activates 500 milliseconds before we are aware that we want to carry out an action. In other words, the brain decides unconsciously to act, before we are aware of having decided to act. We become aware of the action only if the neural event lasts about 500 milliseconds. A way to interpret this is that we are conscious only of electric field patterns in the brain that last about half a second. The scary notion, of course, is that a) we are not conscious of many "decisions" that our brain makes (anything that occurs inside our brain in less than half a second) and b) we are conscious of "our" decisions only "after" the brain has already decided them. This can be interpreted as proof that free will is an illusion, or that free will has about 200 milliseconds to "veto" what the brain wants to do. Libet's experiments showed, however, that, to wit, the brain is ahead of the mind.
Libet proposed that a conscious mental field integrates the diverse neural processes which occur in different parts of the brain.
TM, ®, Copyright © 2014 Piero Scaruffi