Now you talk about “being aware of something”, but what is it really? I find it unfortunate that discussions of results in this area tend to wander into philosophical dispute way too fast. Really I don’t think the experiments described here can (yet) be interpreted in a stringent, conclusive way towards philosophical or ethical meaning. Which doesn’t make them less exciting or obsolete.
In 1965, H. Kornhuber and his associates published results from an experiment, where they recorded with an EEG the buildup of brain activity before a conscious decision. They asked the test subjects to raise an index finger whenever they felt the desire to do so. What they found out was that 0.8 s before the movement, a so-called Readiness Potential was recorded by the EEG. So, it seems like the brain knows beforehand that you will decide. However, if you look at Fig. 10.5 on , you see it’s rather a slow build-up of potential up to the point of activity. As I said, I don’t want to interpret this any further, but it just seems to me that this build-up is also of importance to the interpretation.
But maybe the Libet experiment that is the more famous follow-up experiment may also indicate that this build-up is important. B. Libet and B. Feinstein tested subjects who have had brain surgery, so that they had been able to place electrodes on their brain and could induce activity in the brain. This way, they had a way of stimulating the brain without the patient knowing - and the idea was to record when he became conscious of that stimulus. They used a high-speed clock to enable the patient to tell what time the stimulus started, and found 0.5 s delay between stimulus and sensation. In contrast - a sensation on the skin would be noted immediately - and a brain stimulus initiated shortly after the skin stimulus would make the touching being not felt at all. If the potential builds up slowly, maybe it needs to build up a threshold value before awareness happens - don’t take my word for it, I’m no expert.
I think there has been lots of discussion about this among people from different disciplines. I don’t want to talk about the conclusions about “Free Will is an illusion”. I think for me the only conclusion for now is that your mind deceives you - that time awareness is really skewed a bit although you will not notice.
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