On the relation between brain potentials and the awareness of voluntary movements

Exp Brain Res. 1999 May;126(1):128-33. doi: 10.1007/s002210050722.


We investigated the relation between neural events and the perceived time of voluntary actions or the perceived time of initiating those actions using the method of Libet. No differences were found in either movement-related potentials or perceived time of motor events between a fixed movement condition, where subjects made voluntary movements of a single finger in each block, and a free movement condition, in which subjects chose whether to respond with the left or the right index finger on each trial. We next calculated both the readiness potential (RP) and lateralised readiness potential (LRP) for trials with early and late times of awareness. The RP tended to occur later on trials with early awareness of movement initiation than on trials with late awareness, ruling out the RP as a cause of our awareness of movement initiation. However, the LRP occurred significantly earlier on trials with early awareness than on trials with late awareness, suggesting that the processes underlying the LRP may cause our awareness of movement initiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Awareness / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Contingent Negative Variation / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology
  • Humans
  • Motion Perception / physiology
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*