Free will?

One of the experiments that didn’t make it into the Make Your Brain Work book is that of Benjamin Libet in the 1980s. At the time he was a neuropsychologist at the University of California. He wanted to find out the timings of a mental event and compare them to the timings of a physical event. He wanted to compare when a person made a decision to the onset of the readiness potential after that decision.

In short, the discovery he made was that the beginning of the readiness potential precedes the conscious decision to move. We start to move before we have decided to, by at least half a second. Your brain acting before your mind has decided to act is quite a strange concept.

This realisation is not in itself obviously useful. However, it does link to some old advice held by cultures through the ages. Reflecting and internally interrogating yourself could help you know yourself more deeply. The more you understand yourself and your motivations the more you can tweak things to enable you to act in accordance with your goals.