The Knee Jerk reaction to Free Will.Throughout neuroscience history, scientists have been consistently wrestling with the concept of free will. What's more, is that this concept is not restricted to Neuroscience, and has previously (and currently) being tackled by philosphers, sociologists, theologists and others. It's a concept that each of us ask ourselves: "Do we have Free Will?".
Naturally, the knee jerk reaction is "of course we do, my actions are my own". But such a statement becomes sullied by experiments which seemingly show this to be false. However, from a philosophical standpoint, the whole question and need for experimentation becomes irrelevant, experimentation merely goes on to show how localized decision making is. But as I have stated before, determinism in regards to our thought-process is self-evident, our thoughts are predicted by our brain's biology and external stimuli, neither of which are within our control, because we have no control of anything. The decision we make is a reaction based on the introduction of a stimulus, which yields a certain result based on the resultant cascade of events within the brain. So if our reactions are so set in stone (or biology) where is there room for free will? There are multiple pathways which a stimulus may result in, but the path it takes is no more free will than a river flowing down a particular route because there is less resistance. We use the word decision to represent the choice of which pathway to follow, but in reality, the decision is the act of passing through a particular pathway, the difference being that there never was any real chance of the alternative occurring. For the alternative pathways to be stimulated, a different stimulus would have to be introduced, or the pathway requirements would need to change, thus nullifying the entire concept.
So why do we insist of clinging to these concepts? Because it feels as if these events are our own, and this is important in the way our brain processes the world around it. Although our minds cannot effect our minds directly, we can effect our minds indirectly by introducing new stimuli: the thoughts themselves. We predict alternative options, which help our minds reorganize to allow a more favorable result to occur from the same stimulus. In other words, we only effect our 'choices' after we have made them, for future use.