Decision-making an unconscious activity: study

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Washington, Apr 15 (UNI) Decision-making is a process handled by unconscious mental activity, a recent study suggests.

Scientists has now revealed how the brain prepares our decisions.

Even several seconds before we consciously make a decision its outcome can be predicted from unconscious activity in the brain.

In a study by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, the researcher John-Dylan Haynes used a brain scanner to investigate what happens in the human brain just before a decision is made.

''Many processes in the brain occur automatically and without involvement of our consciousness. This prevents our mind from being overloaded by simple routine tasks. But when it comes to decisions we tend to assume they are made by our conscious mind. This is questioned by our current findings,'' Science Daily quoted Prof Haynes as saying.

The aim of the study was to find what happens in the brain in the period just before the person felt the decision was made.

This prediction of a free decision was made possible by sophisticated computer programs that were trained to recognise typical brain activity patterns preceding each of the two choices.

''Here we were focusing on the more interesting decisions that are made in a more natural, self-paced manner,'' Prof Haynes explained.

The study showed that brain activity predicted -- even up to seven seconds ahead of time -- how a person was going to decide.

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