Do we make decisions with our body or with reason?

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We will see how Neuroscience has given a fundamental role to the sensations of the body for decision-making, placing it as the origin of emotions.

[Music] [Sound] william james who is considered by many to be one of the fathers of modern psychology for   has now come back to prominence in the world of neuroscience  of neuroscience, and it is because he has already advanced   because more than a century ago the importance of the  body not for cognition but for psychology

   said that we could not separate the body from the mind

  mind that as such the studies of psychology   were always going to remain incomplete and william james said a phrase that resonates a lot not that today in   day he said I'm not crying because I'm sad I am  sad because I cry with this phrase so strong   what he intended was to put of relevance  the importance of the sensations of the body   so we need to cry we need the sensation  of the body to have that moment of sadness   to live the experience for william james  and so many other researchers of today of the   cutting-edge neuroscience without the sensations of the body any experience would be only   an intellectual construct, i

e

a moment of sadness  of sadness if it is not accompanied by bodily sensations of  tearfulness of our body sensations of  the contraction of some of the organs of our body

   of the variation in the respiration and in the cardiac coordination  cardiac coordination because they would be just ideas   that we would have for william james if we used the body to make sense of notions that are so   abstract as sadness is, today there is a vision in neuroscience that  vision in neuroscience that I think is very beautiful

   and worthy of highlighting and that is to live the experience  versus memory when we think   in something that is happening to us many times  we hold on more to that moment of thought   in thinking about something in building the memory that  then we're going to retrieve the living experience   in the present moment requires the body  in the present moment because because when   tomorrow we remember what we have lived today it will be  the body of tomorrow that is remembering it

   the situation of our body and how all my organs are  my organs at this very moment I am living   the experience will be unrepeatable therefore what  that is so much talked about nowadays in meditation   for example mindfulness is to live in the present  it's living also from the body because because   is present is being generated by the whole body  it's not just an intellectual idea it's not just an intellectual idea it's not just   a thought or a sensation it is all the sensations  sensations that are accompanying my body in   at this time then studying the sensations of the body for neuroscience has become a   key research topic and in particular for  what is decision making what is decision making what is decision making

   decisions or free will as it lived in the last century as some eras are  last century as some eras are both dark when the   we were under as the great genome project  free will as it was considered as only   an illusion as creek was saying, not today when we are already  we are already talking about that mind-body relationship

   we can start to give a little bit more space to what is the conscious act conscious act what is what   is living in the present and what is free will dilated but  free will dilated but the decision making goes on   being an absolutely mysterious subject for neuroscience and  neuroscience and among other things because it came out of the   an article that was very striking in the year 2008  that was published in the journal necho nerosaller which is the number one research journal in neuroscience  in neuroscience and that was led by professor heinz   at the university of berlin in this experiment  what they showed was that when we took     a decision as simple as our brain may be  seems to have received or cooked an activity   that has taken place up to eight seconds before we become aware of the decision   that we have taken the experiment was very simple, we put people in a neuroimaging machine

   and they were given a choice between different letters  a very simple and neutral decision simply   you have to choose between these four letters from  outside the researchers were seeing that it was   going on in their brain for up to eight seconds before the person was conscious of the letter   the researchers based on their neural activity could predict  their neural activity they could predict which letter   person was going to choose before the person was aware of the letter they were  was aware of which letter the person was going to choose

   article was called unconscious determinants  of decision making not this article because it was   very polemic as I say because notice that  two words are already determinants i

e

   something that determines you that decides determinants  unconscious decision making when   we are going to make a decision as I say no matter how simple it is our brain processes it in seconds   before and all that processing is unconscious  for example one of the most famous experiments   and historical within the decision making  is the one performed by doctor live subjects   the ability to move a hand at the time  that he wanted what he observed the experiments   through electrophysiology techniques where they were measuring the  they measured the activity of the brain is that before the   that we move our hand, there has been produced what is  called preparatory potentials until   two and three seconds before the brain has prepared  when I'm going to choose when I'm going to consciously choose when I'm going to   to make a decision this because of of began to see itself not to  to see itself not to give importance to everything that   it was forged unconsciously in the body today what we call  nowadays what we called unconscious that it was   a kind of a black box that we didn't know and we don't know what  we don't know what it means the unconscious starts   to take as a hypothesis that this unconscious  is the interoception, that is to say the sensations

   of our body we are not conscious  of what is happening inside our body   the interaction which is the priority sense  that our brain receives is unconscious   imagine if the interoception were conscious  and we were sensing everything that's going on

   inside our intestine of our stomach  our heart the dilation of our lungs   the kidneys the bloodstream we could not perceive any more information  we would not be able to perceive any more information because   we would have a collapse of information from the amount  of activation of activity that is occurring   within our body the interoception is unconscious it is  unconscious it is only conscious when it reaches   a certain threshold, one of the examples that is always used  is always given is for example the desire to have that going to the bathroom our bladder is filling up  it's filling up and I don't have any sensation   that that volume is simply increasing  when it has reached a certain threshold volume   the information becomes conscious and I already know that I feel like emptying  that I have the urge to empty my bladder and I have to   to go to the bathroom but until then it's unconscious, the same thing  same thing when we digest, imagine that   if we had the sensation of everything in the amount of  of movement that's going on in there   it would be absolutely unfeasible from the computational  computational point of view then our information   inter-objective is unconscious and this is one of the tricks not  of the tricks not told to us by neuroscience   our body whispers when the body is screaming it is  when it has already reached levels that already   have passed many times to the noxious that is to say  that the nociceptors that already those that   is hurting us, the body is sending us information, it's sending us information through   of the sensations of our body through the changes in our  the changes in our posture through the   changes in skin conductance through the changes in the rate and  changes in the rate and variability of our skin conductance through changes in the rate and variability of our skin conductance

   cardiac through the changes in our respiration rate  respiration rate but the problem and what   neuroscience says and among others the great researcher who is antonio damásio  researcher that is antonio damásio who is also   a very great thinker of neuroscience tells us that as the body whispers and we in our   society we are usually not used to listen to the sensations of our body the   precognitive signals that our body is sending us of where we are heading we don't listen to them   that's why it's so important as neuroscience is showing  neuroscience is demonstrating today to work in techniques   that help us to increase our body awareness for example yoga for example chi kung no   which coordinates to tai chi which are slow movements  it has been demonstrated for example that the practice of   chi kung favors the activation of the presence of  alpha waves to our brain which are the ones that we   makes us realize that they allow us to sustain  attention favor the activity of the insula

   that together with the cingulate cortex, which is also  is also favored by the practice of the chi kung the one that allows us to account for our body's sensations  of our body that allows us to account for the sensations of our body that allows us to account for the sensations of our body that allows us to account for   of ourselves and this is the key for the decision making  of decisions because because we know that second   before making a decision all that process  to the preparatory potentials of decision making   decisions involve the body and during that  time which is still precognitive we neither   even know what we ourselves are going to decide during all that preparation time

   a wide range of bodily sensations emerge  that if we are not accustomed to perceiving the   completely overlooked, this is what has been postulated as one of the  postulated as one of the mechanisms of regulation emotional if in front of a discussion in front of any particular situation I am aware of   how my body is doing I can know in what mental state what psychological state it is leading me to   the situation and therefore I can anticipate the situation that is being  the situation that is being generated as a state of mind

   mental in the sensations of the body understand  the body says antonio damásio it will be to understand   the emotion the body provides the emotion to the  experience that we are living and the emotion is   absolutely inseparable absolutely influential in the decision making one of the experiments   most important experiments that have been done on decision making and the  decision making and the role of the body   in decision making is what's called the iowa task which is called the  iowa task which is called that because in that   the principal investigator the leader of this project that antonio damasio  project that antonio damásio was working in   the university of iowa this experiment gave rise  what is known as the marker theory

   somatic, which is the theory that has been defended by antonio  damasio has been defending for more than 30 years that has been   defending the theory of the somatic marker the  experiment was very simple imagine they would put a   people, the volunteers to the experiment were given four  were given four blocks of cards and they were blocks   in which you could win a lot of money blocks  where you could win or lose a lot of money   blocks in which you could win or lose a lot of money  at the end you had to choose which block of cards was the   that you were going to choose which block of cards you were going to keep, well  obviously with the one that is going to be the one that is going to   make you earn more money then what you do  is that people are going to pick up cards   to try to get the rule out the algorithm of each block is  block this one is making me lose a lot of money   this one has made me win this one neither fú-nor fá so I'll keep this one  I'll take this one here, because what the   researchers was that we needed to mentally  consciously we needed to lift up to 80   cards to know which was the good block after 80 cards you could say this is the block   good because it's the one that makes me the most money

  but what happens that those researchers put   a bunch of electrodes on people's bodies and what they realized  people's bodies and what they found out is that   from the number 10 letter that they were lifting up  the body already knew which one was the good block and the   why they knew this because every time the hand  approached towards the bad block it was increased   the heart rate the body posture shrank  skin conductance increased when   the hand approached the good block without the person's  consciously the person knew that the good block was   block which block was the one that had chosen which  block was his body was already reacting in a way   the body posture changed, the cardiac variability increased  the cardiac variability increased all of this without   that the person at the moment was aware of which block was the right one this led him to   to antonio damásio to say that the body knows  what the mind hasn't yet realized but   then from the implications here is where then  a whole movement arose not because of the practical part   that led was to say if we knew how to listen to our body we wouldn't need 80 cards  our body we wouldn't need 80 cards to   to know what the good block was by the tenth card

  we could already intuit that I think it's this one but we didn't   I know why and this thing that was taking us as well so also  a little bit the amount of weight that we put on the   thinking and reasoning to the arguments  just because we decide we are not aware of   to decide on the good block when we have  put an argument but we do not give any   weight to that intuition that tells us I think it's  this one although all of them I don't know why and that's why we   gives us food for thought like how important it is for  the sensations of our body to increase the   that is the proprioception to increase the body consciousness when we do  body awareness when we do meditation for example   before doing he meditation it is recommended to work on body awareness this is a study   which was carried out at the university of texas  led by professor tam and that I call him   bodyfulness mes no bodyfulness meant that before doing meditation if a person practices though   five minutes or ten minutes of some kind of body stretching  of body stretching or some kind of bodyfulness

   technique that favors the body awareness  because the benefits that meditation already brings   said the maintenance of the attention the memory the regulation of the emotions of organization of the   I all these benefits are increased  in particular what Dr

Tan was studying was   the influence of doing certain chi kung exercises just before you start meditating Dr

tam   who is one of the most prestigious researchers  in the world of meditation neuroscience

   and also of the neuroscience of attention the work with michael posner  work with michael posner who is considered to be the   great expert of the attention the doctor is at the university of texas  university of texas and is doing a project   very interesting which is to try to bring together traditional  traditional chinese medicine with standard medicine   western medicine our he is a doctor of Chinese origin  although he has been trained as a physician in the United States in Texas

   but he is trying to unite the two fields but  his ampara for me his most important contribution was   to say that we can't just then meditate by working on the mental states is sitting to meditate that is   you have to take care of the posture because it's not the same to meditate  it's not the same to meditate in a posture than to meditate   in another one but it's not only a mental act of practice of attention  of mindfulness it's also an act that involves   the body and this for example it is very striking  that in some experiments I've had some studies of research when you ask people where you are  where are you everybody is located almost all the time

   world is located on the forehead where you are on the forehead where you are on the  forehead I'm here where would you say it is

   your self your mind in the forehead normally what  happens that we live from the forehead is to forget   the sensations of the body is just living on a plane that is mental  the sensations of the body is just living in a plane that is mental to forget the sensations of the   body is as Dr

Damasio has been demonstrating for 20 years  demonstrating makes our decision making   is always so much more erratic that we consider rational decision making as something that   so it has been seen that it is absolutely false that we need to include  we need to include emotion but above all that   it is once again revealing everything that is the unconscious  what is the unconscious processing that today in   day we could call interoceptive of the information it is the whole body which decides then when   these experiments arise when we discuss about it one of the questions not that always arises   at scientific congresses is then who  decides me or my gut me or my heart me or my heart me   or my position because what was put forth today  the new paradigm is to say it's not that you are   you are also your intestine you are also your posture you are also your heart  you are also your heart so let's stop saying   where you are here where you are the whole body  you are everything the conscious the unconscious the   the bodily and the mental the internal organic  and the structure of your body and this then is   which is now bringing about a lot of change in neuroscience which is  in neuroscience, which is to dislocate a little bit what is   what are the mental processes of the brain in order to  to take them to what is the whole body because   so something as complex as decision making has been seen and involves the  decision making and it involves the whole body [Sound] [Music]

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