“We think our decisions are conscious,” said
neuroscientist John-Dylan Haynes at the Bernstein Center for
Computational Neuroscience in Berlin, who is pioneering this research.
“But these data show that consciousness is just the tip of the iceberg.
This doesn’t rule out free will, but it does make it implausible.”
Through a series of intriguing experiments, scientists
in Germany, Norway and the U.S. have analyzed the distinctive cerebral
activity that foreshadows our choices. They have tracked telltale waves
of change through the cells that orchestrate our memory, language,
reason and self-awareness.
In ways we are only beginning to understand, the
synapses and neurons in the human nervous system work in concert to
perceive the world around them, to learn from their perceptions, to
remember important experiences, to plan ahead, and to decide and act on
incomplete information. In a rudimentary way, they predetermine our