Dartmouth neuroscientist finds free will has neural basis

A new theory of brain function by Peter Ulric Tse, a professor of cognitive neuroscience at Dartmouth College, suggests that free will is real and has a biophysical basis in the microscopic workings of our brain cells.

Tse's findings, which contradict recent claims by neuroscientists and philosophers that free will is an illusion, have theological, ethical, scientific and legal implications for human behavior, such as whether people are accountable for their decisions and actions.

His book shows how free will works in the brain by examining its information-processing architecture at the level of neural connections. He offers a testable hypothesis of how the mental causes the physical. In contrast with philosophers who use logic rather than data to argue whether mental causation or consciousness can exist, he explores these issues by starting with neuroscientific data.

Recent neurophysiological breakthroughs reveal that neurons evaluate information they receive, which can change the way that other neurons will evaluate information and "fire" in the future. Tse's research shows that such informational causation cannot change the physical basis of current information, but it can change the of future mental events. This gets around the standard argument against free will that is based on the impossibility of self-causation.

Tse lays out his argument in his new book titled "The Neural Basis of Free Will"—https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/neural-basis-free-will

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RobertKarlStonjek
3 / 5 (2) Mar 01, 2013
The author has failed to understand what the 'free will' argument is all about ~ 'self causation' is irrelevant. But ignoring the hype, the actual research is interesting...
JVK
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2013
Excerpt: "In contrast with philosophers who use logic rather than data...he explores these issues by starting with neuroscientific data."

This is the approach I advocated in my most recent published work.
http://dx.doi.org...i0.17338

Excerpt: "The Public Policy Statement: Definition of Addiction (ASAM, 2011) represents a paradigm shift that... dictates the adoption and integration of neuroscientific principles that are required in order to understand differences between genetically predisposed brain disease, naturally occurring variations of behavioral development, and choice. These neuroscientific principles include focus on how sensory input influences behavior.

I have since modeled the concept in its entirety: Nutrient-dependent / Pheromone-controlled Adaptive Evolution http://dx.doi.org...e.155672

I'm now detailing the thermodynamics from protein biosynthesis in cells to organism-level free will and thermoregulation in a human population.
Whydening Gyre
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2013
Rather than providing confrontational commentary as many on here are wont to do, I will just say - interesting work, JVK. A little dry and wordy, with an occasional blank spot here and there to fill in perhaps, but Dammit Jim - I'm only an artist...;-)
JVK
1 / 5 (1) Mar 02, 2013
Thanks. I'm certain I can fill in the blank spots by incorporating the physics to biology link with details of thermodynamics and thermoregulation. I've already submitted this for publication, but the paper is beyond the scope of what some reviewers are comfortable with.

That's a temporary issue, however. The data drives recognition that there must be a model for adaptive evolution, and my model is the only one that incorporates the molecular mechanisms common to species from microbes to man. It also incorporates what is currently neuroscientifically known.

Most artists grasp the fact that adaptive evolution is nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled, whether or not they understand anything about physics, molecular biology, or neuroscience. Thus, artists may be approaching the issues from a more intelligent and intuitive perspective: one that makes sense of adaptive evolution sans the nonsense of random mutations theory. Artists are clearly less confused than theorists!
aroc91
not rated yet Mar 02, 2013
How do you have a sufficient enough grasp of biophysics to write a paper like that when you didn't understand basic intermolecular interactions not even 2 weeks ago?
JVK
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2013
I'm building from the model I have developed during the past 3 decades, which incorporates much of what is currently known about chromatin remodeling. The next logical steps to completion are somewhat predictable, since physics must be included. When I read about something that appears to fit the model, I look into it further. By dismissing ridiculous random mutations theory and examining facts I am less confused by ridiculous theories than people like you are.

For comparison, when debate leads to questions you cannot answer from theory, you drop out of the debate. I still don't know whether an individual cell is considered by physicists to be a closed system. Now that I understand more about basic intermolecular interactions, the answer to the "cell as a closed system question" is extremely relevant. Please answer it, without mention of any ridiculous theory. The existence of cells is a biological fact!
Q-Star
5 / 5 (4) Mar 03, 2013
I still don't know whether an individual cell is considered by physicists to be a closed system.


To physicists there are no perfectly closed systems, at some level all phenomena are subject to "outside" influences.

Now that I understand more about basic intermolecular interactions, the answer to the "cell as a closed system question" is extremely relevant.


It depends on the process under scrutiny. Any two particles that come into contact, are part of "a" system. A molecule within a cell wall has thermodynamic transfer with any molecule that is part of the cell wall that it comes into contact with. Any molecule that is part of the cell wall will share thermodynamic transfer with any molecule outside of the cell wall that it has contact with.

So-called "closed systems" in physics are "ideal" concepts used for teaching & modeling purposes. The only possible truly closed system is the universe as a whole.

Biochemistry provides the best validations of entropy.
Whydening Gyre
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2013
So-called "closed systems" in physics are "ideal" concepts used for teaching & modeling purposes. The only possible truly closed system is the universe as a whole.


FINALLY. Something from Q that is not contrary...
(Of course, I'm sure he'll find argument with that...)
Q-Star
5 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2013
So-called "closed systems" in physics are "ideal" concepts used for teaching & modeling purposes. The only possible truly closed system is the universe as a whole.


FINALLY. Blah, Blah, Blah,,,


A Blah posted under any username is still a Blah.
JVK
2.5 / 5 (2) Mar 03, 2013
Any molecule that is part of the cell wall will share thermodynamic transfer with any molecule outside of the cell wall that it has contact with.


Thank you. Nutrients are molecules outside the cell wall that induce the biosynthesis of de novo receptor proteins from inside the cell, which enables nutrient transport and links the epigenetic landscape of the sensory environment to the physical landscape of chromatin remodeling and stochastic gene expression.

The only possible truly closed system is the universe as a whole.


If the cell is not considered to be a truly closed system, its complexity cannot be compared to the complexity of the universe.

I think that means physicists can continue to embrace the complexity of the universe and biologists can continue to embrace the complexities of the cell using the same concepts -- but without coming to an agreement about cause and effect in the context of adaptive evolution.

Shall I forget about incorporating physics?
aroc91
not rated yet Mar 03, 2013
The existence of cells is a biological fact!


And so is the mutation rate of DNA polymerase and so is the genotype-phenotype link and so is the observation of genotypic mutations that lead to altered enzymes that lead to altered traits.

I hope you're having fun in your fantasy land where smell is the only sense involved in predation and enzyme active site modifications resulting from codon mutations don't exist. Ever heard of the SOS response?
Q-Star
4 / 5 (5) Mar 03, 2013
Shall I forget about incorporating physics?


Ya would be the one best to answer that.

Though I think that it would more constructive and less duplication of work to stick with the union of chemistry and biology. Chemistry is certainly mature enough. Oh my, someone has already thought of that, biochemistry, I'm late again.

Chemistry is but a major subset of the physics anyway. There is your link to physics.
Q-Star
4 / 5 (4) Mar 03, 2013
I think that means physicists can continue to embrace the complexity of the universe,,,,,,,


And the minutest part of it. All of it, from the quark to the entire universe.

,,,,,,,,and biologists can continue to embrace the complexities of the cell using the same concepts -- but without coming to an agreement about cause and effect in the context of adaptive evolution.


Biologists can't agree on adaptive evolution, there seems to still be those few that think it "should" be the prevailing view. So why would ya think a physicist would give a better answer than a biochemist? Would ya go to a house painter to seek an assessment of Ming Dynasty tea pots?
JVK
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2013
Biologists can't agree on adaptive evolution, there seems to still be those few that think it "should" be the prevailing view.[\q]

Well said! What I would like to do is address the entropy of the universe in the context of the complexity of cell biology, which enables nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled (? reversed ?) entropy and de novo protein synthesis.

Is the reversal of entropy required for individual organism survival and speciation across an evolutionary continuum? Protein biosynthesis seems an unlikely outcome of the vibrational force of random molecular motion manifested as heat, which may pull two strands of DNA apart. Is there a model that links the heat to protein biosynthesis?

How is the 2nd law of thermodynamics represented or misrepresented in that context? If it merely comes down to open or closed ideal systems, there may be room for discussion of what is ideally required for adaptive evolution in a physical universe where cells have obviously appeared.
JVK
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2013
The existence of cells is a biological fact!


And so is the mutation rate of DNA polymerase and so is the genotype-phenotype link and so is the observation of genotypic mutations that lead to altered enzymes that lead to altered traits.

I hope you're having fun in your fantasy land where smell is the only sense involved in predation and enzyme active site modifications resulting from codon mutations don't exist. Ever heard of the SOS response?


You simply MUST stop misrepresenting what I have published and modeled (http://dx.doi.org....155672) and tell others how mutations cause adaptive evolution via natural selection. Natural selection for what? How does an organism select a mutation? Is there a model for that? I'm fed up with the lies, damned lies, and statistics of selection that has automagically occurred.
aroc91
not rated yet Mar 03, 2013
Natural selection for what? How does an organism select a mutation? Is there a model for that? I'm fed up with the lies, damned lies, and statistics of selection that has automagically occurred.


You've been informed of this many times before. Natural selection depends on the environment. It's the result of trait-environment interaction. I feel as though you believe natural selection is an opposing mechanism to sexual selection. They both work together.

Natural selection has been modeled numerous times and has been observed in many species. Do a simple Google search before you ask another question that can be answered by perusing Wikipedia.
Q-Star
4 / 5 (4) Mar 03, 2013
Is the reversal of entropy required,,,,, for individual organism survival and speciation across an evolutionary continuum?

That is a local entropy - enthalpy exchange,,, it's always made at the expense of some other local system.
How is the 2nd law of thermodynamics represented or misrepresented in that context?

Entropy will stay constant or increase in the universe as a whole. Or in a truly (non-real) closed system. Cells decrease entropy, but at the expense of something external to them. When ya charge a battery, ya decrease the entropy of the particles it is made of, but at the expense of something outside of the battery.
If it merely comes down to open or closed ideal systems,,,,

There is only one ideal system that exists (as far as physics as we know it) that is the universe as a whole. No other "ideal" closed system has EVER been observed/successfully modeled.

Entropy only reverses at the expense of enthalpy somewhere. Perpetual motion is not permitted.
Whydening Gyre
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2013
FINALLY. Blah, Blah, Blah,,,


A Blah posted under any username is still a Blah.

Someone once mentioned to me - it's all about the entertainment...:-) I learn by having fun at it...
By the way... what's that other private college in town? That's where nephews friend is studying astrophysics...
Q-Star
5 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2013
Natural selection for what? How does an organism select a mutation? Is there a model for that?


"Natural" selection,,,, nature/circumstances are doing the selecting, not the organism. Yes there is a very good model of it, "The Origin of Species", which has been expanded upon by many great biologists and molecular biologists through the years. I'm not even a biologist or close, but I knew that from high school.
Q-Star
5 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2013
By the way... what's that other private college in town? That's where nephews friend is studying astrophysics...


He's not studying astrophysics in Chapel Hill if he is attending a private college. There are two other programs near by, but not here in Chapel Hill. Wake Forest? Duke?
Whydening Gyre
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2013
Nephew is studying neuro bio at UNC. His friend from NZ is studying AP at a private college nearby. Don't remember the name of it. (Been 6 months since he told me and I am over 50...)
Q-Star
5 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2013
Nephew is studying neuro bio at UNC. His friend from NZ is studying AP at a private college nearby. Don't remember the name of it. (Been 6 months since he told me and I am over 50...)


The only two substantial astrophysics programs nearby are at Wake Forest University in the Winston-Salem area, and at Duke University in Durham. UNC's is miles ahead of them both, they both partner with UNC for facilities and lecturers,, because UNC is an older and more established program.
JVK
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2013
Natural selection for what? How does an organism select a mutation? Is there a model for that?


"Natural" selection.... Yes there is a very good model of it, "The Origin of Species", which has been expanded upon by many great biologists and molecular biologists through the years...I knew that from high school.


Much has changed since you were in high school. Darwinian natural selection is no longer viewed in the context of statistically contrived runaway selection and random mutations theory. The head crest of pigeons and beak morphology of finches exemplify nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled adaptive evolution via the molecular mechanisms that determine species-specific phenotypical changes that are selected via their associations with olfactory / pheromonal input.

Are you aware of anything that's changed in the context of what you and others have learned about physics? You have been very helpful. I will cite you if you wish - even as (Personal communication).
Whydening Gyre
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2013
JVK,
Is smell an augmentation to taste? If that has been be determined, I would find it interesting verification of your work.
Your research brings to mind quorum sensing articles from a number of years ago - an important 1st step leading to your own endeavours, I would imagine.
JVK
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2013
Taste is largely a function of smell. Quorum sensing represents nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled reproduction in microbes. My model extends the molecular biology that's common to species from microbes to man: "Olfaction and odor receptors provide a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans." http://dx.doi.org...i0.17338
Whydening Gyre
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2013
So.. you're saying from an evolutionary standpoint smell was here first. Interesting...
JVK
1 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2013
Among different bacterial species existing in similar environments, DNA uptake appears to have epigenetically 'fed' interspecies methylation and speciation via conjugation. This indicates that reproduction began with an active nutrient uptake mechanism in heterospecifics and that the mechanism evolved to become symbiogenesis in the conspecifics of asexual organisms. In yeasts, epigenetic changes driven by nutrition might then have led to the creation of novel cell types, which are required at evolutionary advent of sexual reproduction. These epigenetic changes probably occur across the evolutionary continuum that includes both nutrition-dependent reproduction in unicellular organisms and sexual reproduction in mammals. For example, ingested plant microRNAs influence gene expression across kingdoms. In mammals, this epigenetically links what mammals eat to changes in gene expression and to new genes required for the evolutionary development of the mammalian placenta and human brain.
JVK
1 / 5 (1) Mar 04, 2013
I have learned more about the thermodynamics of adaptively evolved brain development thanks to Q-Star, but the topic is free will. Do microbial cells exhibit "free will" when they "choose" to ingest other organisms? If not, at what point do the molecular mechanisms common to species from microbes to man enable the "free will" that appears to be nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled? In theory, endogenous retroviruses could be the "ghosts" in the molecular machinery that drives adaptive evolution via their control of cellular metabolism (http://www.amphil...05.pdf). In fact, there is no evidence that random mutations cause adaptive evolution, which I think tends to annoy some physicists and many evolutionary theorists.
Q-Star
5 / 5 (3) Mar 04, 2013
I will cite you if you wish - even as (Personal communication)


I do not wish.