Basics of social cognitive and affective neuroscience: XVII. Free will

Authors: F. Koukolík
Authors‘ workplace: Oddělení patologie a molekulární medicíny ;  Národní referenční laboratoř prionových chorob ;  Thomayerova nemocnice s poliklinikou, Praha ;  Primář: MUDr. František Koukolík, DrSc.
Published in: Prakt. Lék. 2012; 92(4): 191-197
Category: Editorial


Voluntary action is perceived as essential to human nature. The neuroscience of free will refers to recent investigation of an ancient theological, philosophical, moral, psychological, neurological, psychiatric and legal question by neuroscientific tools. Does a rational agent exercise control over his actions, decisions and choices or is free will merely cognitive illusion? A large scale neuronal network exists for voluntary action. The primary motor cortex receives two classes of input. One from premotor – presupplementary and supplementary motor area which receives an input from basal ganglia and anterior prefrontal cortex and the second from early sensory cortices – parietal cortex – lateral premotor cortex. Frontopolar cortex forms and deliberates plans and intentions, presupplementary motor area in conjunction with other premotor areas prepares the action and generates the readiness potential the primary motor cortex becomes active. Free will is probably a biological trait. The philosophical notion of free will as existent or non-existent is probably a false dilemma. The more appropriate question about free will is not “if” we have a free will but “how much” free will do we have.

Key words:
free will, large scale neuronal network, biological trait.


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