Monday 14 April 2008

We make decisions before we know it

Posting made via the Doppelganger Facility - from Jaysi.

We Make Decision Before We Know It!

There is an interesting study coming out in Nature Neuroscience.

Basically, the study asked participants to make a decision as to whether to press a button with the right hand or the left hand. They then had to report when they felt that they had made the decision. The research, using computer programmes, examined what happened within the brain before the felt decision had been made, and it showed that it was possible to predict the decision that the participants would later make, meaning therefore that the decisions are being made by something other than the conscious mind!

Here are a couple of links to the news report:

Interesting stuff indeed.

My thoughts on this:

If decisions are made before the conscious mind is aware of them, the obvious question arises 'Who or what is making the decisions?' Also, this study is being reported as suggesting that we do not really have free will, but that is because most people are unaware of, or reject the notion of the daemon, if indeed it is the daemon that is in some way running the show in our brains. But if it is, how come so many of us are so screwed up? :)


Anthony Peake said...

Now that is what I call synchrondipity!!!

In the posting below you will see my request for information with regard to the radio item I heard o Radio 5 Live. After I had placed the posting I went back to my AOL account to see if any new emails had come in. One had - it was from Jaysi (or, more accurately the person who uses the blogger identity of Jaysi). Jaysi has been on the blog before but only as a comment maker rather than a full Poster. He asked me could I place something on as a posting. I read down it and lo and behold. Exactly what I had requested ... but Jaysi was totally unaware of this request. It was pure coincidence.

That is the power of synchrondipity!!

Anthony Peake said...


Thank you so much for this. As I write in my previous posting this is of real importance to empirical support of both the Daemon-Eidolon Dyad and also the recording elements of the Bohmian IMAX.

Can I make a request to all:

This breaking news is of great significance for ITLAD. I would be grateful if any members of this Blog who feel so inclined, maybe contact or email their local radio stations / newspapers mentioning how this fascinating research links to the Itladian theories with regard to the Daemon? It is only by using the media in a dynamic way that Itlad can become better known.

I know that this is asking a lot of you but if you do have some spare time I would be so grateful (I feel that if it comes from me directly it will not have the same impact is it would from a reader of my book).

Hurlyburly said...

This really is one of the most fascinating posts i've ever read, it is also has nothing to do with the fact that i can blame something else for my pesky gambling addiction!

Jaysi said...

I'm delighted that this post has been so interesting for both of you, and it's true Tony - I hadn't read your earlier post - I was just dreamily surfing the web! I do not have much time to post on account of other commitments, but I try to get to this blog most days because this is all so fascinating and it ties in so intriguingly with things like meditation and such like. I was asked on an online meditation course I am studying at the moment - "Try to describe what the term 'inner teacher' means to you", and it was fun to expound on the daemon (at least my limited understanding of it), and to plug the book a little bit. If I'd been asked the question before reading the book, I would have been hard pressed to come up with a decent answer.

Now, if we can somehow, instead of looking back seven minutes, look ahead seven hours we will be able to put money on football matches, which will cure your "pesky gambling addiction" Hurlyburly - instead, it'll be sound investing!

Hurlyburly said...

SEE terrible film called NEXT starring Nicholas Cage.

Why Cage, why? You're one of the best there is, why would you agree to make this film!

Karl Le Marcs said...

*comes crashing into room late with a half eaten pastie*
BLIMEY! I leave you all alone for a day and this happens!! AND I've been (at least for part of the day) at a reasonably large Radio Station so if I'd been aware of this I could have done something.
Damnation AND Blast!!!


I've done some investigative scrabbling around over this and although most of the research was done at the illustrious Max Planck institute, it does appear that several outlets are misreporting some of the findings.

I'll say more tomorrow when I've had some time to fully wade through the myriad of conflicting reports but essentially I don't see this as signalling decision making as such but merely..........., I'm really going to need to get some sleep, will revisit this tomorrow.

*if I pre-decide such, that is*

Karl Le Marcs said...

*crashes back into room clutching a steaming mug of coffee as sleep is but an illusion!!!*

OK, In 6 separate reports I have now read on this research, the length of the "pre-decision" varies from 5 seconds at American Neurological Journal to 10 seconds at Science.

Previous studies into Consciousness Buffers have reported differentials between empiricism and consciousness of around 3-4 seconds maximum.
Including the work of Dean Radin.

Here's my angle on it: as you'd expect, it's not what you'd expect !

Rene Descartes famously said "Cogito Ergo Sum", or "I Think, Therefore I Am" - Now, is the consciousness that says "I Think" the same consciousness as that of "I am"?

I would say not as the consciousness that says "I Think", given the existence of a Consciousness Buffer, should in actuality, as a secondary activity, be saying "I Am Aware That I Think".....Therefore I Am.

Now, this suggests that everything that we attribute to "I" such as "I see", "I hear" and even "I decide", should in truth be stated as "I am aware that I see", "I am aware that I hear" and "I am aware that I decide".

In this instance, there in no specific pre-decision as concluded from this research, but merely more evidential research towards such a consciousness buffer which results in a primary and secondary activity within subjective consciousness.

AND, if we look at collective subjective consciousness (such as 80,000 people watching a football game live in a stadium), surely each individual period of time delay to consciousness would have to be equal or as near equal as feasible, otherwise everyone would be reacting to a goal at varying times between 3 and 10 seconds (depending on which you read) resulting in the, admittedly unlikely scenario of Tranmere Rovers scoring a goal *smiles at Tony*, and Tony jumping up in celebration a number of seconds before the other person in the ground *repeated smile at Tony* becomes aware of the goal, which is ludicrous, as we can all see that we empirically experience objective events simultaneously (within milliseconds).


Jaysi said...

Maybe the action of the 80,000 people at the match is the same as that of the action of people at the proverbial shouting of "fire" at the theatre. That is, it's more a reaction to something than a decision. From what the reports seem to say about the study (available from this link: ) (anyone subscribe to Nature, or have $32?), the study seems to be limited to 'conscious' premeditated decisions (choosing whether to press a button with the right left hand), which to me seems different from reacting to a goal being scored at a match.

These two events (making a decision and reacting to an outside stimulus) perhaps occur in different parts of the brain, and so could be of different natures. Thus, reactions in general may not be predicted within the brain.

As I said, the study seems to be limited to premeditated decisions by the participants, and although fascinating in itself, would to my mind be a hundred times more mind-blowing if the participants in the experiment were asked to make split second decisions of some kind. If in this situation there was still a consciousness buffer of several seconds, it would be amazing indeed! Anyone think of any experiment ideas we could send to the Max Planck Institute?

Karl Le Marcs said...

Hi Jaysi:

I don't agree that my "reacting to a goal" analogy is different at all, as the reaction to the goal is in itself a premeidated conscious decision as well, before being presented to the part of consciousness that then physically does the reacting.

And the analogy was intended to question the validity of un-coordinated consciousness buffers in a large group of people.

You are correct when you wonder if the "making a decision" and "reacting" are different parts of not just the brain, but also consciousness.

Some similar experiments have been done previously with fighter pilots (I'll have to try and find the sources) where the split second decisions of the pilots to interpret where, not only they will be in the sky, at a given moment in time, but also their position in relation to the moving target (another fighter plane) are required to enable them to "predict" exactly where to fire, have been remarkably precognisant within a consciousness buffer of around 3 seconds.

This delay between the "I Am Aware That I Think" part of consciousness and the "I Am" part of consciousness is therefore essential.

ra from ca said...


I am aware I think *slowly*, but thanks for these comments. I am still mulling this one over, but I found your comments very interesting. I certainly don't get this notion that some have that we don't have free will. Doesn't compute.

Karl Le Marcs said...

Ra from Ca;
Ruth, I agree. My ability to think very quickly is also balanced with a deeper reflective quality that I work to employ. I let my thoughts flow at the speed I can type and then I go back and review those thoughts in my reflective mode. That gives the balance.
If you have any questions or challenges to my thought-processes then I genuiely welcome them as that is what makes theory stronger - debate. So please continue to do, as you already do, either in public blog comments or via private email.
And I like your adaptation of my "I am aware that I think, therefore I am" to be "I am aware that I think slowly, therefore I am"
And of course we have free will whether viewed theologically, philosophically or psychologically (and even Daemonically). Even in the deeper context of ITLAD Tony has woven into the theory that the Eidolon has free will. The Eidolon does not have to follow Daemononic Guidance BUT awareness of the Daemon means we are better qualified to make that judgement subjectively.
Thanks for your input as ever Ruth, it and all the discussions on here assist the EITLAD (Evolution of ITLAD

Aloha Gary said...

WOW! *echoes Karl's raised eyebrow*

so just to add to the debates:

forgive me for not quoting precise references (will look)

I am aware of some research in both cricket and baseball which says that the ball is bowled so fast that, the time available to the batsman (less than half a second) should actually be IMPOSSIBLE to react in time to hit the ball bowled!!

In fact as we can see, sometimes the batsman looks perplexed (think Gatting completely missing Shane Warne) and other times, the batsman wallops the ball out of the park.

My contention here is that we create our reality, so when the batsman is more focused and certain, he somehow guides the ball onto his bat, whereas if the bowler is more certain he bamboozles the batter!

comments please?

point 2. Ditto tests at topgun and elite military training schools such as SAS and Speznaz (Russias SAS) have shown that with repeated training, the soldiers are able to react to a stimulus AND 'DECIDE' to fire or not fire (eg because potential target is a civilian)
in less than half a second.

We know from the research that conscious relexive awareness lags behing subconscious by approx 0.5 second lag.

I would contend that this is because of INTENTION, because we are all creating our awarness, and due to training and focus some elite athletes/military are able to forcefully create their reality 'in the moment', whereas normally for most of us, our reality has been created by a myriad of thoughts decisions and actions over our whole life (and before)

thoughts, ladies and gentlement?


Karl Le Marcs said...

Aloha Gary;
That's precisely what I've been banging on about on various posts on here for weeks!!
Thanks Gary, I'm glad someone is paying attention.
I don't just make this stuff up as I go along you know!!

ps, some similar research was done within Tennis also I seem to recall; that given the speed of the serve by the world's best players it should be impossible for the mind to see the serve, calculate the future position of the ball in relative motion, send the neuronal signals to the arm muscles to draw the racket back, apply the Newtonian Physics to change the direction of that motion from pulling the racket back, and then produce a forward motion to hit the oncoming ball AND to get it to land within a predermined space.

But it happens - and it is my belief that this is due to a temporal time lag between observation and consciousness, which can be harnessed.

Jaysi said...

Hi Karl,

Try as I might, I cannot see that reacting to a goal on the pitch is the same as the button pushers' decision.
When you said "the reaction to the goal is in itself a premeditated conscious decision as well", are you talking about the fact that a football fan will have decided, at some earlier date, to react in a positive way if his team scores a goal, and in a negative way if the other side scores?
The rest of this post assumes this meaning. If I've got it all wrong, well, never mind!
Here are some differences I see, and after, an explanation of why I think they are important in terms being able to predict a person's decisions or not, whether in an experiment or at a football match.

I see three main differences:

1) Knowledge that the action will occur – Pusher = 100%, Fan = unsure.

The pusher is sitting at a table with the express purpose of acting. The fan doesn't know if he will act or not – it depends on whether a goal is scored. Why is this significant? Because it may be that the fact that an action is certain to happen is the thing that creates the predictive brain activity. If there is no knowledge of an action about to happen, there can be no predictive brain activity.

2) Decision time before action taken – Pusher = seconds before, Fan = perhaps many years before

The pusher makes an apparently conscious decision to do something, and then does it, and is then informed that his action was predicted by software attached to his brain, and that his brain "knew" that "he" was going to do this action. The fan decided years ago how to react to a goal being scored, so his decision has perhaps come into Pavlovian realms, which means that there is a reaction to an event, not a decision made at or around the time of the goal being scored.

3) A reaction to external stimulus – Pusher = no, Fan = yes

The pusher is making a decision to do something. The fan is reacting to external stimulus, and the decision to react to that stimulus is long gone. Much the same point as number two.

I have read the posts put up over the last couple of days about sports players - cricket, tennis etc, and along with your mention of fighter pilots, I would love to find out more information about this stuff if you can find the links you mentioned.

Sorry for the delayed reply – let me know what you think.


Karl Le Marcs said...

Hi, and thanks for getting back to me.
Now, please remember that I used the football crowd analogy merely as a construct to suggest the fine-tuning required within collective consciousness. By which I mean that if we were sat together at a game, without the time delay between subjective empirical observation and presentation to consciousness being in some way equal, then either you or I would be 'aware' of the goal before the other one.

You ask if my comments were presumptive of "the fact that a football fan will have decided, at some earlier date, to react in a positive way if his team scores a goal, and in a negative way if the other side scores?" and it in NO WAY does which makes the rest of your comments hard for me to comment on as they are based on an erroneous premise.

The similarity between the pusher and the goal cheerer is in the pre-awareness of the coming action within subjective consciousness. The pusher has pre-awareness that he is about to press the button and the goal cheerer has pre-awareness that a goal has just been scored.

My question is this: Is this temporal time delay between what our subjective consciousness initially empirically receives and the subsequent presentation of this awareness to consciousness a universally uniform constant?

Jaysi said...

Hi Karl,

In response to your question:

If the experiments done by the pushers is to be believed, it seems that the presentation of this awareness to consciousness is not a constant (though I still haven't read the full article). On the other hand, the fans' is a constant. So an experiment needs to be done on some of those fans to see what's going on inside their heads!

Karl Le Marcs said...

There is the Sociological area of 'crowd mentality' to include in the conciderations of course, ie, a fans reaction to a goal may not in fact be a reaction to cognisance of the goal but a reactory response to the responses of those around them. A conditioned response as oppossed to an unconditioned response.

But I would certainly expect there to be at least a rough correlation between subjective temporal delays.