Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
A central feature of voluntary movement is the sense of volition, but when this sense arises in the course of movement formulation and execution is not clear. Many studies have explored how the brain might be actively preparing movement before the sense of volition; however, because the timing of the sense of volition has depended on subjective and retrospective judgments, these findings are still regarded with a degree of scepticism. EEG events such as beta event-related desynchronization and movement-related cortical potentials are associated with the brain's programming of movement. Using an optimized EEG signal derived from multiple variables, we were able to make real-time predictions of movements in advance of their occurrence with a low false-positive rate. We asked participants what they were thinking at the time of prediction: Sometimes they were thinking about movement, and other times they were not. Our results indicate that the brain can be preparing to make voluntary movements while participants are thinking about something else.