History and philosophyNeuroscience and the willSpence, Sean A.; Hunter, Mike D.; Harpin, Gemma Author Information Academic Department of Psychiatry, University of Sheffield, The Longley Centre, Sheffield, UK Correspondence to Sean A. Spence, Academic Department of Psychiatry, University of Sheffield, The Longley Centre, Norwood Grange Drive, Sheffield S5 7JT, UK. Tel: +44 (0)114 226 1519; fax: +44 (0)114 226 1522; e-mail: [email protected] Abbreviations ACC: anterior cingulate cortex ASPD: antisocial personality disorder COMT: catechol-O-methyltransferase DLPFC: dorsolateral prefrontal cortex OFC: orbitofrontal cortex PFC: prefrontal cortex Current Opinion in Psychiatry: September 2002 - Volume 15 - Issue 5 - p 519-526 Buy Abstract Purpose of review Neuroscientific study of voluntary behaviour is increasingly relevant to clinical psychiatry, and all the more topical because of societal concerns over the prediction of ‘risk’. The purpose of the present review is to highlight recent research in the area of volition as manifested in people with neuropsychiatric disease and personality disorder. This may also shed light on the ‘healthy’ state. Recent findings Voluntary, willed behaviours preferentially implicate specific regions of the frontal cortex in humans. Recent studies have demonstrated constraints on cognition, which manifest as variation in frontal lobe function and emergent behaviour (specifically intrinsic genetic and cognitive limitations, supervening psychological and neurochemical disturbances), and temporal constraints on subjective awareness and reporting. Although healthy persons generally experience themselves as ‘free’ and the originators of their actions, electroencephalographic data continue to suggest that ‘freedom’ is exercised before awareness. Summary Future studies are likely to exploit combined methodologies from the fields of genetics, cognitive neuropsychology and neuroimaging, and may be increasingly applied to improve our understanding of social cognition and forensic behaviours. © 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.