OPEN DISCUSSION FORUM

Following requests that we received, we established this portal to facilitate discussion on or around the neurophilosophy of free will, especially by young scholars. 

What can I post here?

You can:

  1. Discuss research ideas with scholars from around the world;
  2. Introduce your research interests and potentially find a partner for the joint-talk seminar competition;
  3. Exchange methods of data analysis in neuroscience;
  4. Ask questions you might have about the neuroscience and philosophy of free will;

And more…

Forum Rules

1. Remain respectful of other members at all times;

2. No spam/advertising/self-promotion in the forum;

3. Do not post copyright-infringing materials;

4. Do not post offensive posts, links or images.

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Jake Gavenas
Jake Gavenas
4 months ago

Hi, I’m a PhD student from Chapman University. I study neuroscience/psychology, focusing on volition and consciousness. I’m particularly interested in how conscious experience relates to the actions we take, and using mathematical approaches to model neural phenomena related to action, consciousness, intentions, and decision-making. Some of my ongoing projects include simulating neural networks and analysing spontaneous changes in activity, and using concurrent TMS-EEG to investigate how neural correlates of consciousness might vary with other physiological signals.

Mike Rizzo
Mike Rizzo
4 months ago

Hi, I am currently not affiliated with any major groups, and more of an independent researcher and online learner. I am interested in topics related to free will such as consciousness and trying to develop modeling and other methodological approaches to further our understanding of the topic. I am open to learning more and potentially joining any discussions that may be available to the general audience.

Tom Kim
Tom Kim
4 months ago

Hello, my name is Tom and I am a research assistant at the Brain Institute in Chapman University. My research interest is around habits. I am especially interested in the specifics of how multisensory stimulus (visual, audio, olfactory, tactile etc) that coincides with habitual behavior can generate the behavior on its own over time i.e. people act on the environmental cues rather then making a conscious decision to do the behavior.

Last edited 4 months ago by Tom Kim
Jared Smith
Jared Smith
3 months ago

Hello! I’m Jared, a PhD candidate in philosophy at the University of California, Riverside. My dissertation concerns the moral psychology of obsessive-compulsive disorder. I have research interests in philosophy of agency/action, bioethics, and topics at the intersection of these areas in particular.

Nadav Amir
Nadav Amir
3 months ago

I’m Nadav, a postdoc at Tel-Aviv university and the Brain Institute Chapman University. My background is in computational neuroscience and control theory, in particular development of models for navigational learning and attention using dynamical systems, optimal control and information theoretic methods. I am currently interested in modelling the relationship between consciousness and sense of agency using control theoretic notions.

Alexis Mas
Alexis Mas
3 months ago

Hello, I am currently a 19-year-old student in Miami majoring in Biology. I also enjoy other fields like philosophy, psychology, and many others. I recently had an idea of a possible experiment which I submitted to my mentor, in order to solve the ancient question of free will vs determinism. Days later after doing some research I found this page and was very excited to see that there was a whole group dedicated to this. My idea is more from a psychological perspective rather than a neurological one since I believe that often in neurological studies take only one subject (or a very specific part of the brain) into account.

In a nutshell, I would hypothesize that if 2 identical genetic twin rats (after embryonic twinning) were separated after birth into 2 rooms with 100% the same controls (temperature, food, light, etc.) and exposed to 100 % the same behavior and stimulating exposers. Then after a given amount of time, they would react 100% the same when to exposed challenges. Given there 100% identical genes and environment, therefore proving the deterministic theory and disproving the Free-will idea. 

I should point out that I honestly do not know what the results might be it can prove both the determinism or free will side. I predicted the hypothetical results based on logic and not personal believ.

If anyone has any tips they can give me or thinks that this is a good idea and worth pursuing please let me know. Perhaps we can exchange ideas and specifics about this possible experiment.

Uri Maoz
Uri Maoz
3 months ago
Reply to  Alexis Mas

Hello Alexis,
Glad you find this work interesting. I have two comments about your suggestion.
Regarding the first, I am far from an expert in developmental biology, so do take my comment with a grain of salt. But, as far as I understand, even minute differences in the placement of the embryo in the womb for example may result in considerable differences between the offspring. What is more, given the non-linearity of the interactions in these developmental processes, deterministic chaos may well come into play with its exponential sensitivity to initial conditions. So, your identical genetic twins may not be biologically identical no matter how hard your tried to make the conditions identical. And your experiment might not be practically possible.
Let us take it as a thought experiment then and assume that such identical rats could be formed. And say that you were able to have them develop in identical environments and that they would then react the same way to a train of stimuli. Would that really mean that they have no free will? That would depend on what you see as the critical factors for them to have free will. For example, it seems that their decisions would still be under their control and they would be reason responsive. Under those criteria, they would still have free will.
Let me end by noting that there might be something deep about this experiment being impractical, about our inability to replicate conditions exactly. But that might be outside the immediate focus of your suggestion.
I hope this was helpful in some way.

Alexis Mas
Alexis Mas
3 months ago
Reply to  Uri Maoz

Dear Dr.Maoz
I would first like to thank you for taking the time to respond and helping me out. I have indeed thought about the fact that it is nearly impossible to replicate both conditions 100% the same (even though that would be the idea or get the conditions and timing as closely as possible). The overall purpose in my mind was, that this experiment would bring us a little closer to find somewhat of an answer to the free will question.

Now considering that this is mostly a philosophical debate, regardless of the results (in any research) I believe that there will always be skeptics to whatever the results might be and would be quick to point out any small factors that were not taken into the account in the experiment, to say there was some sort of inconsistencies, overall to disprove the point the research is trying to make. My overall hope (as I later realized) is that if this experiment is even possible, would be to add a viewpoint (backed up by scientific research) that can be used to enhance our understanding of this long-life debate.

Thank you so much for your help