What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close

How the Brain Allows for Free Will

August 12, 2012, 12:45 PM
Brain%20light%20pulse%20ss

What's the Latest Development?

A new analysis of the Libet experiment, the classic neurological study which supposedly disproved free will, is helping make human volition viable again. In Libet's original experiment, an EEG machine measured electrical activity that occurred in the brain before individuals were aware they had made a spontaneous movement. "Called the readiness potential, this has been interpreted as a blow to free will, as it suggests that the brain prepares to act well before we are conscious of the urge to move." A new understanding of spontaneous brain activity, however, is throwing doubt onto the study's original conclusion.

What's the Big Idea?

In 2009, a pair of researchers at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, designed an experiment to test the nature of spontaneous brain activity. What they found is that the brain assembles a series of neurons that, once they cross a threshold, constitute a decision to act. In the experiment, individuals who reacted most quickly to the experimenters' prompt to move also had the greatest neuron buildup. Aaron Schurger of the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Saclay, France, said of the results: "...what looks like a pre-conscious decision process may not in fact reflect a decision at all. It only looks that way because of the nature of spontaneous brain activity."

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com


 

How the Brain Allows for Fr...

Newsletter: Share: