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Guess what? Humans don’t have free will but maybe rats do

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Humans don’t, it seems, from the purport of E. O. Wilson’s new book

But from Discover Magazine, we learn:

Murakami et al. trained rats to perform a task requiring patience. In each trial, the rat heard a sound and had to wait in place until a second sound occured. If they waited, they got a large amount of water as a reward. If they moved to get some water too soon, however, they only got a small amount.

Using tiny electrodes implanted in the premotor cortex of the rats’ brains, Murakami et al. discovered that some neurons seemed to act as “integrators” (or counters) – over the course of the waiting period, their firing activity gradually increased. If activity reached a certain threshold before the second sound played, the rat would stop waiting and ‘spontaneously’ decide to go for the small reward. More.

This is not, of course, a harmless trend. Free will exists, it turns out, only if it doesn’t matter.

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One Reply to “Guess what? Humans don’t have free will but maybe rats do

  1. 1
    ppolish says:

    I know I keep mentioning Dembski’s new book “Being as Communion”, and chapter 2 “Free Will: The Power of No” is beautiful.

    “Free will is the power of no. Not only does this understanding of free will resonate with information theory, but it also parallels a Judeo-Christian ethics that locates human freedom in self-denial and obedience. It’s no accident that the commands of the Decalogue are stated as negations.”

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