The mind's best trick: how we experience conscious will

Trends Cogn Sci. 2003 Feb;7(2):65-69. doi: 10.1016/s1364-6613(03)00002-0.


We often consciously will our own actions. This experience is so profound that it tempts us to believe that our actions are caused by consciousness. It could also be a trick, however - the mind's way of estimating its own apparent authorship by drawing causal inferences about relationships between thoughts and actions. Cognitive, social, and neuropsychological studies of apparent mental causation suggest that experiences of conscious will frequently depart from actual causal processes and so might not reflect direct perceptions of conscious thought causing action.