The readiness potential (RP) has been widely interpreted to indicate preparation for movement and is used to argue that our brains decide before we do. It thus has been a fulcrum for discussion about the neuroscience of free will.
Recent computational models provide an alternative framework for thinking about the significance of the RP, suggesting instead that the RP is a natural result of the operation of a stochastic accumulator process of decision-making, analyzed by time-locking to threshold-crossing events.
These models call for a reevaluation of: (i) the ontological standing of the RP as reflecting a real, causally efficacious signal in the brain; (ii) the meaningfulness of temporal comparisons between the ‘onset’ of the RP and the timing of other phenomena; (iii) the moment at which we, as experimenters, identify that a decision to act has been made; and (iv) the relevance of the RP for discussions of free will.
Schurger, A., Hu, P. B., Pak, J., & Roskies, A. L. (2021). What is the readiness potential? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 25(7), 558-570. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2021.04.001
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