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Volition and Action in the Human Brain: Processes, Pathologies, and Reasons

Fried, I; Haggard, P; He, BJ; Schurger, A; (2017) Volition and Action in the Human Brain: Processes, Pathologies, and Reasons. Journal of Neuroscience , 37 (45) pp. 10842-10847. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2584-17.2017. Green open access

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Abstract

Humans seem to decide for themselves what to do, and when to do it. This distinctive capacity may emerge from an ability, shared with other animals, to make decisions for action that are related to future goals, or at least free from the constraints of immediate environmental inputs. Studying such volitional acts proves a major challenge for neuroscience. This review highlights key mechanisms in the generation of voluntary, as opposed to stimulus-driven actions, and highlights three issues. The first part focuses on the apparent spontaneity of voluntary action. The second part focuses on one of the most distinctive, but elusive, features of volition, namely, its link to conscious experience, and reviews stimulation and patient studies of the cortical basis of conscious volition down to the single-neuron level. Finally, we consider the goal-directedness of voluntary action, and discuss how internal generation of action can be linked to goals and reasons.

Type: Article
Title: Volition and Action in the Human Brain: Processes, Pathologies, and Reasons
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2584-17.2017
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2584-17.2017
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2017 the authors. This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: action, awareness, human, neuropsychology, stochastic, volition
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10039556
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