Benjamin Libet (//; April 12, 1916, Chicago, Illinois – July 23, 2007, Davis, California) was a pioneering scientist in the field of human consciousness. Libet was a researcher in the physiology department of theUniversity of California, San Francisco. In 2003, he was the first recipient of the Virtual Nobel Prize in Psychology from the University of Klagenfurt, "for his pioneering achievements in the experimental investigation of consciousness, initiation of action, and free will".
In the 1970s, Libet was involved in research into neural activity and sensation thresholds. His initial investigations involved determining how much activation at specific sites in the brain was required to trigger artificialsomatic sensations, relying on routine psychophysical procedures. This work soon crossed into an investigation into human consciousness; his most famous experiment was meant to demonstrate that the unconscious electrical processes in the brain called Bereitschaftspotential (or readiness potential) discovered by Lüder Deecke and Hans Helmut Kornhuber in 1964 precede conscious decisions to perform volitional, spontaneous acts, implying that unconscious neuronal processes precede and potentially cause volitional acts which are retrospectively felt to be consciously motivated by the subject. The experiment has caused controversy not only because it challenges the belief in free will, but also due to a criticism of its implicit assumptions. It has also inspired further study of the neuroscience of free will./.../