On his journey of “self-discovery” Marcus de Sautoy explored the very biological and spiritual aspects of the human brain. His journey led him to many different questions that still to this day cannot be answered. At what age do we become aware of ourselves? Where exactly does our conscious reside in our brain? Is it possible to know if someone is truly conscious or not? And, in my opinion, most importantly, are we really in charge of the decisions we make, or are our minds at bay to the desires of our subconscious?
During his travels, de Sautoy underwent various experiments, one that actually answered the question of who or what is in control of our choices? de Sautoy was determined to discover the source and timing of his decisions. He was placed in a scanner system and given to buttons. While he was inside the scanner he was to make the decision of pressing either the right or left button. While de Sautoy was making his decision the scanner was recording exactly when his mind made the decision to press the right button.
The results showed that the scientists were able to record up to six seconds before de Sautoy made his decision, what exactly he was going to do, which, in this case, was press the button on the right. With this data in hand, we can conclude that a human’s conscious decision is a very secondary aspect to actual brain activity. That there is a lot of unconscious brain activity very early in the decision making stage that is shaping a person’s decisions, and that our consciousness comes in a very late stage. The final thought was that if a person’s thoughts are very closely encoded in their brain activity we cannot make a distinction between these thoughts and brain activity. That we do not need to assume that there are two separate entities existing in two separate spaces. Rather, they are different aspects of the same physical process, so therefore, our conscious is our brain activity, and that is what is leading our life.