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Book Chapter

Beyond libet: Long-term prediction of free choices from neuroimaging signals


Haynes,  John-Dylan
Max Planck Fellow Research Group Attention and Awareness, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
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Haynes, J.-D. (2011). Beyond libet: Long-term prediction of free choices from neuroimaging signals. In S. Dehaene, & Y. Christen (Eds.), Characterizing consciousness (pp. 161-174). Heidelberg: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-18015-6_10.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-42C6-3
Since the famous experiments by Benjamin Libet it has been debated whether brain signals can precede and predict the outcome of decisions even before subjects believe to be consciously making up their mind. Now it is possible to directly assess such choice-predictive neural signals using multivariate pattern classification. We have shown that the specific outcome of free choices between different plans can be read out of brain activity even several seconds before it is made. Thus, an unconscious causal chain of events can occur outside subjective awareness even before a subject makes up their mind. The nature and computational role of the choice-predictive signals still requires further investigation. Most importantly, the link to “background” brain activity is currently unclear.