New findings raise questions about our brain's role in decision-making.
These days, we seem to be living in a new golden age of choice. One moment we’re tweeting, the next we are changing our profile picture. We get a hankering for hummus and next thing we know, it’s off to Yelp the nearest falafel place. In every choice and action we make, online or off, we have the unique sense that we are in control. This is what it feels like to have free will.
But many neuroscientists have maintained a long-standing opinion that what we experience as free will is no more than mechanistic patterns of neurons firing in the brain. Although we feel like free agents contemplating and choosing, they would argue that these sensations are merely an emotional remnant that brain activity leaves in its wake. If these neuroscientists are right, then free will isn’t worth much discussion.
Everyone has an opinion on the issue of determinism and free will and most people accept the idea of determinism but nonetheless believe they are in charge of their actions. Busy people are willing to accept these disparate views and just live life. For those who stop a second and wonder, “hey how does that all work?” this is the book for them. It tells the story of my life in brain research and how after 50 years of it, I have come to think about the crucially important idea of personal responsibility in a determined brain.