The Second International Conference on Neuroscience and Free Will

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.

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?

9:45am – 10:30am     Sebo Uithol   

On intentions and the real causes of our actions                                         

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 MeleGideon 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

3:45pm – 4:30pm       Hans Liljenström  

A neuro-cognitive approach to free will in social interaction

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?

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?

2:45pm – 3:30pm      Liad Mudrik  

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

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

9:15am – 10:00am     Frederick Eberhardt

Causal Structure Discovery from Neural Data

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

2:45pm – 3:30pm       Patrick Haggard 

The Bereitschaftspotential and the cognitive neuro-ontology of voluntary action

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.


Deciding or instructed to move or not move  

Sanaz Attaripour Isfahani (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke)


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

Sofia Bonicalzi (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)


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

Kazuki Iijima (Tamagawa University)


Bio-Agency and Natural Freedom

Anne Sophie Meincke (University of Southampton)


Using placebo machines to influence agency over thoughts, attitudes, and behaviours

Jay Olson (McGill University)


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)


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

Elisabeth Parés Pujolràs (University College London)


Interpretive-Sensory Access to One’s Will

Paulius Rimkevicius (Vilnius University)


Revisiting behavioral and electrophysiological evidence against free will: are they limited to meaningless decisions only?

Yarden Shir (Tel Aviv University)


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

Siyuan Yin (Duke University)


Freedom and free will: impact of phrasing on intuitions

Jake Gavenas (Chapman University Brain Institute)


Using Pupillometry to Assess Conscious Intention

Andy Liang (Chapman University Brain Institute)


Timing the onset of deliberate and arbitrary choices

Alice Wong (Chapman University Brain Institute)


Compact 3 DOF Driving Simulator using Immersive Virtual Reality for ecological decision making

Jungsu Pak (Chapman University Brain Institute)

Student-Led Session Details

(Sunday 12pm – 2pm)


12:00pm – 12:40pm


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.