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The Second International Conference on Neuroscience and Free Will

April 22, 2019, 8 a.m.

We hosted the Second International Conference on Neuroscience and Free Will from March 14th to March 18th, 2019. The conference was organized by Uri Maoz.


This conference has been made available by the generous support of the Fetzer Franklin Fund and additional support from the President's Office and Crean College at Chapman University.



Below are some highlights from the conference.



Click here to view the complete conference schedule.




Conference Sessions

(Click on any title to view the corresponding abstract.)




Morning Session: Are We Going To Find Intentions In The Brain?


9:00am - 9:45am       Mark Hallett     

Are we going to find intentions in the brain?


Relevant paper 1    

Relevant paper 2



9:45am – 10:30am     Sebo Uithol   

On intentions and the real causes of our actions                                                                           

Relevant paper


11:00am – 12:00pm

Philosopher Response: Richard Holton

Panel: Mark Hallett, Richard Holton, Aaron Schurger, Sebo Uithol, Gideon Yaffe



Special Session: What Can Neuroscience Contribute to the

Philosophical Debate on Free Will?

Click on the participant’s name to view the question(s) they will pose.


1:30pm - 2:30pm         Alfred Mele

                                   Gideon Yaffe

                                   Walter Sinnott-Armstrong





Afternoon Session: Freedom In A Social Setting (Click for webcast)


3:00pm - 3:45pm        Marcel Brass

The influence of free will beliefs on intentional motor control and social perception


Relevant paper 1

Relevant paper 2


3:45pm – 4:30pm       Hans Liljenström  

A neuro-cognitive approach to free will in social interaction


Relevant paper


5:00pm – 6:00pm

Philosopher Response: Eddy Nahmias

Panel: Marcel Brass, Hans Liljenström, Eddy Nahmias, Jonathan Schooler, Till Vierkant






Morning Session: The Role of Randomness (Click for webcast)


8:30am – 9:15am       Björn Brembs

Conceptualizing freedom as a composite biological process   


Relevant paper       


9:15am – 10:00am      Gabriel Kreiman

Do neurons play dice? And does the answer matter for free will?


Relevant paper 1

Relevant paper 2


10:30am – 11:30am (Click for webcast)                                                                                 

Philosopher Response: Tim O'Connor

Panel: Björn Brembs, Gabriel Kreiman, Tim O'Connor, Uri Maoz, Peter van Inwagen




Poster Session (Click for information)

12:00pm – 2:00pm



Afternoon Session: Are More Ecological Studies Too Confounded? (Click for webcast)


2:00pm – 2:45pm       Uri Maoz

Do the Libet results generalize to deliberate decisions?


Relevant paper



2:45pm – 3:30pm      Liad Mudrik  

Studying ‘real-life’ consciousness and volition: promise, challenges and perils


Relevant paper


4:00pm – 5:00pm (Click for webcast)

Philosopher Response: Pamela Hieronymi

Panel: Pamela Hieronymi, Liad Mudrik, Uri Maoz, Gary Watson, Patrick Haggard







Morning Session: Causality in Neuroscience (Click for webcast)


8:30am – 9:15am      John-Dylan Haynes     

Challenges to causal interpretation of decision-predictive brain signals


Relevant paper


9:15am – 10:00am     Frederick Eberhardt

Causal Structure Discovery from Neural Data


Relevant paper


10:30am – 11:30am (Click for webcast)

Philosopher Response: Tim Bayne

Panel: Tim Bayne, Frederick Eberhardt, John-Dylan Haynes, Chris Hitchcock, Paavo Pylkkanen




Student-Led Session(Click for webcast)

12:00pm – 2:00pm


Panel Discussion: (Click for webcast)

Ned Block, Patrick Haggard, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Peter Tse


To facilitate more student engagement with the conference and their topics of interest, we have a student-led session. Here, the students decide on the format and the content. The first part of the session comprises of group discussions of 6 topics. There will be 3 simultaneously discussed topics for 40 minutes and then 3 others for the next 40 minutes. Then, in the second part of the session, there will be a panel discussion for 30 minutes.



Click here for details about the topics and participants.





Afternoon Session: What Is The Readiness Potential? (Click for webcast)


2:00pm – 2:45pm       Aaron Schurger

The time course of neural activity predictive of impending movement


Relevant paper 



2:45pm – 3:30pm       Patrick Haggard 

The Bereitschaftspotential and the cognitive neuro-ontology of voluntary action


Relevant paper 1

Relevant paper 2

Relevent paper 3



4:00pm – 5:00pm  (Click for webcast)

Philosopher Response: Adina Roskies

Panel: Mark Balaguer, Patrick Haggard, Mark Hallet, Adina Roskies, Aaron Schurger





Poster Session Details (Click for webcast)

(Saturday 12pm - 2pm)


Click on any title to view the corresponding abstract.


1. Deciding or instructed to move or not move  

      Sanaz Attaripour Isfahani 

      National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


2. Picking and choosing. An ERP study of the neural correlates of meaningless

    and meaningful actions

      Sofia Bonicalzi

      Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich


3. The Knobe effect attenuated in autism spectrum disorder and its neural basis

      Kazuki Iijima

      Tamagawa University


4. Bio-Agency and Natural Freedom

      Anne Sophie Meincke

      University of Southampton


5. Using placebo machines to influence agency over thoughts,

    attitudes, and behaviours

      Jay Olson

      McGill University


6. Exploring free will with magic tricks: using magicians' forces to unveil

    psychological factors involved in our illusory sense of agency over choices

      Alice Pailhes

      Goldsmiths University of London


7. Do we know what we are about to do? A real-time EEG study of intention awareness

      Elisabeth Parés Pujolràs

      University College London


8. Interpretive-Sensory Access to One's Will

      Paulius Rimkevicius

      Vilnius University


9. Revisiting behavioral and electrophysiological evidence against free will:

    are they limited to meaningless decisions only?

      Yarden Shir

      Tel Aviv University


10. Testing the Conditional Ability to Do Otherwise in the Court of Popular Opinion

        Siyuan Yin

        Duke University


11. Freedom and free will: impact of phrasing on intuitions

      Jake Gavenas

        Chapman University Brain Institute


12. Using Pupillometry to Assess Conscious Intention

        Andy Liang

        Chapman University Brain Institute


13. Timing the onset of deliberate and arbitrary choices

      Alice Wong

        Chapman University Brain Institute


14. Compact 3 DOF Driving Simulator using Immersive Virtual Reality

       for ecological decision making

        Jungsu Pak

        Chapman University Brain Institute


Click here to return to the program




Student-Led Session Details

(Sunday 12pm - 2pm)


12:00pm - 12:40pm


Topic Moderator

Are we going to find intentions in the brain?

Jake Gavenas

The role of randomness

Jungsu Pak

Causality in neuroscience

Alice Wong



12:40pm - 1:20pm




Freedom in a social setting

Jungsu Pak

Will findings generalize to distal intentions?

Alice Wong

Noise and responsibility

Jake Gavenas



1:20pm - 2:00pm

Panel Discussion


Students are welcome to add questions for the 6 topic discussions and for the panel using this link. Only the students can edit the spreadsheet of questions, but everyone can view the questions.


Click here to return to the program