The timing of intentions

Sean A Spence

in The actor's brain

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780198526667
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754364 | DOI:
The timing of intentions

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In this chapter, we have examined some very detailed and elegantly designed experiments, which have required great attention to fine distinctions. We have examined ‘intentions’ and the subjective awareness of ‘movement’. Latterly, we have touched upon ‘vetoes’, cancelled intentions. All these studies serve to enhance our understanding of what it is that happens while ‘freely chosen’ intentions and ‘internally initiated’ acts are generated (or not generated, cancelled) in the healthy human brain. We have clarified the timing of some of those components that constitute the cerebral motor response and we have identified patterns of association pertaining between subjective phenomena (i.e. our experiences of intention and movement, volition) and the cognitive, neurobiological processes that underpin action. We have demonstrated the pivotal contribution of the medial premotor systems to action generation and medial prefrontal systems to action suppression (the ‘cancelling’ of intentions, self-control).

Chapter.  9524 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Psychiatry

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