Mind and Brain lectures
KOSMOS Scholar’s Lecture: Marcel Brass (Ghent), “Does it matter whether we believe in free will or not? Priming disbelief in free will affects basic motor cognition”
Marcel Brass is Associated Researcher at the Berlin School of Mind and Brain. The question whether free will exists or not has concerned philosophers and scientsts for centuries. Recently, prominent neuroscientists have argued that free will is an illusion. But does it really matter whether we believe in free will or not? Interestingly, social psychological research demonstrated that priming people with disbelief in free will negatively affects their social behaviour. Based on these findings we became interested in the question whether disbelief in free will also has an impact on more basic cognitive processes. I will report a series of experiments in which we show that priming people with disbelief in free will affects intentional motor preparation, sense of agency and error processing. These findings suggest that high-level beliefs might have a much more profound influence on basic cognitive processes than previously thought.