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Emergence of free will and consciousness in humans: implications for doctor-patient interactions
  1. Philip D Welsby
  1. Post-retirement Clinical Teaching Fellow, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Philip D Welsby, Queen’s Medical Research Institute, College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH16 4TJ, UK; philipwelsby{at}


Human brains have about 100 billion neurons each with about 1000 dendritic connections with other neurons giving a total of 100 000 billion deterministic dendritic switches. Various voting systems that the brain may use can produce conflicting results from identical inputs without any indication as to which one or ones would be correct. Voting systems cannot deliver unequivocal results in any other than the simplest situations. It is hypothesised that these conflicting results provide an indeterminacy that underlies free will, self-awareness, awareness of others, consciousness and personal responsibility, all of which can influence doctor-patient interactions.

  • free will
  • voting systems
  • consciousness
  • informed consent

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  • Contributors PDW is the sole contributor.

  • Funding The author has not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.