Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Brain activity pre-awareness proves NOTHING....


Dear Dr. Oakley,

You state in your article, 

"There is a strong link between the conscious experience of intending to move a limb and experiencing the movement. But being aware that you intend to move your limb is not the same as saying that your awareness made your limb move – especially when the intention to move precedes awareness of that intention. However, our unconscious thought systems generate the belief that it was the self’s awareness of the intention that brought about the movement." 

It’s intention that hones awareness as anyone who has gone grocery shopping, practiced playing the piano, prepared to be in an acting role, played a sport, can attest. And the joy of mastering a skill is that one can less awkwardly achieve one's objective without having to laboriously concentrate on every little twitch of a knuckle. After much practice, chess experts are somewhat paradoxically able to pre-screen out irrelevant possible moves from consciousness, mostly to their advantage, sometimes not, as I’m sure you know. 

Some intentions are deliberate, others not, of course, but not all that is deliberate is always conscious, as the purpose of deliberate practice is to make effortless the more tedious details of practice. So I don’t think you can really base your theories (which might be correct for other reasons) on the shaky edifice that it’s a mistake to think awareness makes our limbs move. I drive home or type this without much awareness of the details of how my hands move the wheel or my fingers on the keyboard. These movements are not in response to a deliberate desire on my part to keep in the lanes every inch of the way, or press t with my left index finger, but to get home safely or to write this note.


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