The Sources of Human Volition

  title={The Sources of Human Volition},
  author={Patrick Haggard},
  pages={731 - 733}
Two regions of the brain contribute to the conscious experience of carrying out an action. Every day we make actions that seem to depend on our “free will” rather than on any obvious external stimulus. This capacity not only differentiates humans from other animals, but also gives us the clear sense of controlling our bodies and lives. It therefore forms a key element of our personal identity. However, such voluntary actions are a puzzle for modern neuroscience. Where do they come from? A study… 

The neuroscientific foundations of free will.

  • Z. Rappaport
  • Psychology
    Advances and technical standards in neurosurgery
  • 2011
In this article, contributions of both neurosurgeons and other neuroscientists to the understanding of free will are reviewed and the volitional motor model will be emphasized for heuristic purposes.

Insights from Neurobiology

The traditional concept of free will is based on the assumption that humans are able to decide and to act by "immaterial" mental causation. Accordingly, they can decide and act differently under

Free Will and Spatiotemporal Neurodynamics

It is argued that there is, as yet, no empirical support for epiphenomenal conscious will, and that the alternative hypothesis, that conscious will is causative, is also consistent with experimental data.

Toward a second-person neuroscience 1

Evidence from neuroimaging, psychophysiological studies, and related fields are reviewed to argue for the development of a second-person neuroscience, which will help neuroscience to really “go social” and may also be relevant for the understanding of psychiatric disorders construed as disorders of social cognition.

Consciousness, decision making, and volition: freedom beyond chance and necessity

A stochastic population model representing the neural information processing of decision-making (DM), as an essential part of volition, is developed and results seem to confirm the notion that if decisions have to be made fast, emotional processes and aspects dominate, while rational processes are more time consuming and may result in a delayed decision.

Neurons as will and representation

  • I. Fried
  • Psychology, Biology
    Nature reviews. Neuroscience
  • 2021
Evidence from human single-neuron studies indicating that brain systems involved in these acts can form a conceptual–volition interface, where representations of actions and stored memories interact, sometimes in the absence of sensory input and sometimes allowing such input to be overridden is examined.

From stimuli to motor responses : Decoding rules and decision mechanisms in the human brain

The present work addressed the question of which brain areas form the basis for task preparation and decisions along the processing chain from stimuli to responses, and highlighted the importance of parietal cortex in controlling both rule-guided and self-determined behavior in humans.

Free Will and Neuroscience: From Explaining Freedom Away to New Ways of Operationalizing and Measuring It

The article proposes to start from an operationalizable concept of free will to find a connection between higher order descriptions (useful for practical life) and neural bases, and is linked to the idea of “capacity”: that is, the availability of a repertoire of general skills that can be manifested and used without moment by moment conscious control.



Altered awareness of voluntary action after damage to the parietal cortex

It is proposed that when a movement is planned, activity in the parietal cortex, as part of a cortico-cortical sensorimotor processing loop, generates a predictive internal model of the upcoming movement that might form the neural correlate of motor awareness.

The angular gyrus computes action awareness representations.

It is shown that right Ag is associated with both awareness of discrepancy between intended and movement consequences and awareness of action authorship, and it is proposed that this region is involved in higher-order aspects of motor control that allows one to consciously access different aspects of one's own actions.

The Illusion of Conscious Will

  • D. Wegner
  • Psychology, Philosophy
    The MIT Press
  • 2018
Do we consciously cause our actions, or do they happen to us? Philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, theologians, and lawyers have long debated the existence of free will versus determinism.

Abnormalities in the awareness of action

The What, When, Whether Model of Intentional Action

  • M. BrassP. Haggard
  • Psychology, Biology
    The Neuroscientist : a review journal bringing neurobiology, neurology and psychiatry
  • 2008
The authors propose a model that distinguishes three major components: a component related to the decision about which action to execute (what component), a component that is related to a decision about when to execute an action (when component), and a component about whether toexecute an action or not (whether component).

A neurophysiological study of the premotor cortex in the rhesus monkey.

It is concluded that many premotor cortex neurons appear to reflect motor set and show activity patterns during and before the execution of an abstractly guided movement that are strikingly similar to what has been observed in association with movements made directly to visuospatial targets.

Movement Intention After Parietal Cortex Stimulation in Humans

Parietal and premotor cortex regions are serious contenders for bringing motor intentions and motor responses into awareness and consciousness arise from increased parietal activity before movement execution.

Perception of self-generated movement following left parietal lesion.

It is concluded that the parietal cortex plays an important role in generating and maintaining a kinaesthetic model of ongoing movements, and parietal lesions alter the representational aspects of gestures, and suggest a failure in evaluating and comparing internal and external feedback about movement.

Functional organization of human supplementary motor cortex studied by electrical stimulation

  • I. FriedA. Katz D. Spencer
  • Biology, Medicine
    The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience
  • 1991
Electrical stimulation mapping with currents below the threshold of afterdischarges showed somatotopic organization of supplementary motor cortex with the lower extremities represented posteriorly, head and face most anteriorly, and the upper extremities between these two regions.

The illusion of conscious will

Wegner (Wegner, D. (2002). The illusion of conscious will. MIT Press) argues that conscious will is an illusion, citing a wide range of empirical evidence. I shall begin by surveying some of his