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"In 1965, Hans Kornhuber and Luder Deecke made a discovery that greatly influenced the study of voluntary action. Using electroencephalography (EEG), they showed that when aligning some tens of trials to movement onset and averaging, a slowly decreasing electrical potential emerges over central regions of the brain. It starts 1 second ( s) or so before the onset of the voluntary action1 and continues until shortly after the action begins. They termed this the Bereitschaftspotential, or readiness potential (RP; Kornhuber & Deecke, 1965).2 This became the first well-established neural marker of voluntary action. In that, the RP allowed for more objective research on voluntary action rather than its previous dependence on subjective introspection.
Two decades later, the RP captured the attention of the wider neuroscience community as well as of philosophers, legal scholars, and laypeople. This is because it was associated with a key question in the debate on free will: Is human voluntary action caused by the conscious intention to act? Or does the conscious experience only follow unconscious neural activity, which is the true origin of that action, and over which humans have only-limited immediate control?"
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Maoz, U., Mudrik, L., Rivlin, R., Ross, I., Mamelak, A., & Yaffe, G. (2015) On reporting the onset of the intention to move. In A. R. Mele (Ed.), Surrounding free will: Philosophy, psychology, neuroscience (pp. 184-202). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
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