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Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?$
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Susan Pockett, William P. Banks, and Shaun Gallagher

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780262162371

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262162371.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MIT PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mitpress.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright The MIT Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MITSO for personal use.date: 24 May 2022

Free Choice and the Human Brain

Free Choice and the Human Brain

(p.52) (p.53) 4 Free Choice and the Human Brain
Does Consciousness Cause Behavior?

Richard E. Passingham

Hakwan C. Lau

The MIT Press

“Free choice” refers to an individual’s freedom to choose or to act spontaneously without being influenced by an external agent. This chapter examines the brain mechanisms underlying spontaneous choices—that is, choices that are not prompted by external cues. It presents evidence from brain imaging experiments that show how the brain generates action and addresses the question of whether consciousness causes or results from the initiation of action. It also considers whether activity in the supplementary motor area (SMA), which lies at the midline on the medial surface of the hemisphere, is necessary for spontaneous action. Moreover, the chapter analyzes attention and intention, the ideo-motor theory of action proposed by William James in 1890, willed action, the relation between the prefrontal cortex and pre-SMA, and conscious decisions and deliberation.

Keywords:   free choice, brain, spontaneous action, willed action, brain imaging, consciousness, attention, intention, supplementary motor area, ideo-motor theory of action

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