Free will—our ability to decide whether to eat that piece of chocolate, or reach for that extra slice of pizza—has long been a subject of debate. For decades, neuroscientists have insisted that decision-making originates in the brain. Now, a groundbreaking study shows that you’re more likely to initiate a decision that involves free will while you are exhaling—a finding that suggests the body is far more influential in choice-making than originally thought.
At the center of the study is something called “readiness potential”: the firing of brain cells that occurs right before we become aware of our intention to act. More than 50 years ago, researchers discovered that the brain fires before we are consciously aware of the intention to do something (like reaching for pizza). Some interpreted that as evidence that brain activity, not intention, is responsible for decision-making, and that free will is a myth.
A groundbreaking study shows that you’re more likely to initiate a decision that involves free will while you are exhaling.
In recent years, however, that belief has come under fire as we’ve discovered that much of what happens…