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Neuroscience, free will and determinism: 'I'm just a machine'

Neuroscience, free will and determinism: 'I'm just a machine'
What does this mean in terms of free will? "We don't have free will, in the spiritual sense. What you're seeing is the last output stage of a machine. There are lots of things that happen before this stage – plans, goals, learning – and those are the reasons we do more interesting things than just waggle fingers. The conclusions are shocking: if we are part of the universe, and obey its laws, it's hard to see where free will comes into it. "If you see a light go green, it may mean press the accelerator; but there are lots of situations where it doesn't mean that: if the car in front hasn't moved, for example. Slowly, however, we are learning more about the details of that complexity. "What happens if someone commits a crime, and it turns out that there's a lesion in that brain area? This runs shockingly contrary to the sense of freedom that we feel in terms of controlling our actions, on which we base our whole sense of self and system of morality. Prof Haggard is dismissive. Related:  we are social, we are political, we are (non-)religious

Neuroscience of free will Neuroscience of free will is the part of neurophilosophy that studies the interconnections between free will and neuroscience. As it has become possible to study the living brain, researchers have begun to watch decision making processes at work. Findings could carry implications for our sense of agency and for moral responsibility and the role of consciousness in general.[1][2][3] Relevant findings include the pioneering study by Benjamin Libet and its subsequent redesigns; these studies were able to detect activity related to a decision to move, and the activity appears to begin briefly before people become conscious of it.[4] Other studies try to predict activity before overt action occurs.[5] Taken together, these various findings show that at least some actions - like moving a finger - are initiated unconsciously at first, and enter consciousness afterward.[6] A monk meditates. Overview[edit] -Patrick Haggard[6] discussing an in-depth experiment by Itzhak Fried[13] Criticisms[edit]

Pink v blue - are children born with gender preferences? | Politics The Times and FT report today (£) that Hamleys, is ditching its separate floors for boys and girls along with their pink and blue signs and replacing them with signs that simply state the types of toys sold. The Times story says: Hamleys, the country's most famous toy store, has abandoned its traditional separate floors for boys and girls after a campaign on Twitter accused it of operating "gender apartheid". New signs in the store now state what type of toys are sold on each floor, rather than suggesting who should play with them.The campaign was started by Laura Nelson, a political blogger who writes under the name "Delilah" and who trained as a neuroscientist. She believes that young children's development can be limited if they play with only one sort of toy. When I tweeted the link to the story this morning the responses ranged from "hurrah!" But what is the science behind gender and toys? Pink v blue Dolls v cars Monkeys playing with toys in 2009 Hines study The article went on:

Learning how the brain does its coding Most organisms with brains can store and process a staggering range of information. The fundamental unit of the brain, a single neuron, however, can only communicate in the simplest of manners, by sending a simple electrical pulse. The challenge of understanding how information is contained in the pattern of these pulses has been bothering neurobiologists for decades, and has been given its own name: neural coding. In principle, there are two ways coding could be handled. The alternative, sparse coding, tends to be used for memory recall and sensory representations. A study released in yesterday's Science provides some perspective on just how flexible this sort of system can be. The authors of the paper traced the connections among the neurons in the mushroom body, and found that most were contacted by a single, giant interneuron that sent them inhibitory signals.

Intuitive? Try God God is related to decision-making style, with those who rely more heavily on intuition reporting higher rates of belief, while those who are more reflective tilt toward atheism. By linking religious belief to intuition, the study supports the idea that there is something in the cognitive makeup of humans that promotes belief in a higher power. For example, the natural tendency that people have to see a purpose behind random events, or the need to reduce uncertainty in their lives — as well as the anxiety it causes — may promote a belief in God. The work, conducted by researchers in Harvard’s Psychology Department, found that cognitive style was an important indicator of religious belief. They found that this was true even when accounting for factors such as intelligence, education, income, and political orientation. “Science attempts to explain mysterious things in terms of things that are more basic and more general,” said Greene.

At what age do girls prefer pink? Crudely speaking, the psychological field of gender development is split between those who see gender differences as learned via socially constructed ideas about gender, and those who believe many gender differences are actually “sex differences”, innate and biologically driven. In Western cultures, girls consistently prefer pink, boys prefer blue. Which academic camp lays claim to this difference? Past research has made a case, in terms of the evolutionary advantage of finding fruit, for why females might be biologically predisposed to prefer pink and other bright colours. But a new study purports to show that girls only acquire their preference for pink, and boys their aversion to it, at around the age of two to three, just as they’re beginning to talk about and become aware of gender. LoBue and DeLoache presented 192 boys and girls aged between seven months and five years with pairs of small objects (e.g. coasters and plastic clips) and invited them to reach for one.

Tanya L Chartrand: Botox impairs our ability to relate to others | Technology | The Observer Tanya L Chartrand is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the Duke University Fuqua School of Business in North Carolina. With David T Neal from the University of Southern California she recently published a paper entitled "Embodied Emotion Perception: Amplifying and Dampening Facial Feedback Modulates Emotional Perception Accuracy", which found that using Botox – a neurotoxin injected into muscles to reduce frown lines – reduces a person's ability to empathise with others. It wouldn't surprise people to hear that it's difficult to tell what the Botoxed are feeling, but your study found that the Botoxed have little idea what we are feeling? Yes, we always assume that you can't tell what the Botoxed people are feeling because their faces are somewhat paralyzed and can appear frozen, but what is less intuitive is that being injected with Botox impairs their ability to understand what other people around you are feeling. So Botox messes with our embodied cognition? Absolutely.

Religion is irrational, but so is atheism - opinion - 28 March 2011 Why are some people religious and others atheists? Do we really know what we mean by atheism? Here is a very paradoxical clue IN THIS space a year ago, Lois Lee and Stephen Bullivant called for a science of "non-religion". I agree. Launching Into Unethical Behavior: Lessons from the Challenger Disaster Ann E. Tenbrunsel is a professor of business ethics at the University of Notre Dame. Max Bazerman is a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. Launching into Unethical Behavior By Ann E. The 25th and last flight of the shuttle Endeavour has come and gone. Shuttle liftoff from Cape Kennedy, FL (Photodisc) For anyone who was around on Tuesday, January 28, 1986, it’s difficult to watch a shuttle launch without remembering the Challenger disaster, when the space shuttle disintegrated 73 seconds after launch, killing all seven crew members. On the night before the Challenger was set to launch, a group of NASA engineers and managers met with the shuttle contracting firm Morton Thiokol to discuss the safety of launching the shuttle given the low temperatures that were forecasted for the day of the launch. The engineers were told that Morton Thiokol needed to make a “management decision.” Despite their best intentions, the engineers were at fault too.