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The Problem of Free Will and Modern Neuroscience

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This article discusses the various manifestations of free will. Making it an adequately defined subject for neuroscientific study requires basic phenomenological analysis. The inadequacy of denying free will on the basis of Libet’s and Soon’s experiments is demonstrated. The manifestations of free will are the phenomena of subjective reality. The question is how they are connected with cerebral processes. An information-based approach is proposed to answer this difficult question. Mental causality is regarded as informational causality and is linked with the concept of “top-down emergent causality” [Sperry, 1994], which provides an explanation of free will as an expression of the process of self-organization or self-determination at the level of the Ego system of the brain. The strategic importance of neuroscientific investigations of the problem of the “I” and the activity of consciousness as the ability to express will are emphasized.

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Correspondence to D. I. Dubrovsky.

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Translated from Zhurnal Vysshei Nervnoi Deyatel’nosti imeni I. P. Pavlova, Vol. 67, No. 6, pp. 739–754, November–December, 2017.

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Dubrovsky, D.I. The Problem of Free Will and Modern Neuroscience. Neurosci Behav Physi 49, 629–639 (2019).

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