Brief Communication abstract

Nature Neuroscience 11, 543 - 545 (2008)
Published online: 13 April 2008 | doi:10.1038/nn.2112

Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain

Chun Siong Soon1,2, Marcel Brass1,3, Hans-Jochen Heinze4 & John-Dylan Haynes1,2


There has been a long controversy as to whether subjectively 'free' decisions are determined by brain activity ahead of time. We found that the outcome of a decision can be encoded in brain activity of prefrontal and parietal cortex up to 10 s before it enters awareness. This delay presumably reflects the operation of a network of high-level control areas that begin to prepare an upcoming decision long before it enters awareness.

  1. Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Stephanstrasse 1A, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.
  2. Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Haus 6, Philippstrasse 13, 10115 Berlin, Germany.
  3. Department of Experimental Psychology and Ghent Institute for Functional and Metabolic Imaging, Ghent University, Henri Dunantlaan 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium.
  4. Department of Neurology II, Otto-von-Guericke University, Leipziger Strasse 44, 39120 Magdeburg, Germany.

Correspondence to: John-Dylan Haynes1,2 e-mail:


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