Itzhak Fried

Itzhak Fried
pas labex
pas Eurias

dates de séjour

20/09/2014 - 20/10/2014
01/04/2015 - 30/04/2015
15/09/2015 - 15/10/2015
01/10/2016 - 30/11/2016
01/05/2017 - 30/05/2017
01/04/2018 - 30/04/2018


Neurosciences et sciences cognitives

Fonction d’origine


Institution d’origine

Université de Californie, Los Angeles (États-Unis) et Université de Tel-Aviv (Israël)

pays d'origine


projet de recherche

The Volitional Self and its Brain / The Brains that Pull the Triggers

The problem of free will has accompanied the human condition since ancient times but has been primarily the province of philosophy. The vast and rapid developments in neuroscience over the last few decades provide some interesting empirical data and potential insights into this problem. Tantalizing empirical data in neuroscience, some from our research at UCLA using electrical stimulation and recordings from the human brain, suggest that specific brain activity is present prior to not only action itself, but also prior to the will to act. Thus “free” will can be decoded and predicted from neural activity prior to volition experienced by the self. These new data pose challenges to the humanities and social sciences, philosophy, literature law, politics. Two central themes bear special scrutiny. One is the consideration of mind enhancement as compared to mind reading and mind control potentially afforded by scientific knowledge. The second is the issue of individual responsibility in the view of seemingly deterministic preconscious brain activity. In this project I propose to bring experts in these disciplines to an Atelier environment to produce interdisciplinary synthesis involving perspectives from the fields of neuroscience, philosophy, social sciences, psychology and literature, law and politics. The transformation of groups of previously nonviolent individuals into repetitive killers of defenseless members of society has been a recurring phenomenon throughout history. This radical change in behaviour is characterized by a set of symptoms and signs for which a common syndrome has been proposed, Syndrome E (Fried, Lancet, 1997). Individuals expressing the syndrome show obsessive ideation, compulsive repetition, rapid desensitization to violence, diminished affective reactivity, hyperarousal, group contagion, and failure to adapt to changes in stimulus-reinforcement associations. Our hypothesis is that this syndrome is a product of neocortical development rather than the manifestation of a disinhibited primitive brain. Rapid developments in cognitive and social neuroscience offer new opportunities to understand the biological roots of Syndrome E. Our aim is to increase our understanding of the perpetrator’s mind, and thus inevitably of the brain mechanisms which pull the triggers and make this most extreme and disastrous of human behavior possible, in the hope that it will help the human and social sciences address this problem.


Dr. Fried is Professor of Neurosurgery and Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA.  He is Director of the Adult Epilepsy Surgery Program there, and is also Co-Director of the Seizure Disorder Center.  Concurrently, he is a Professor of Neurosurgery at Tel-Aviv University in Israel.  After obtaining a degree in physics at Tel-Aviv University, Dr. Fried completed his Ph.D. at UCLA, and went on to a medical degree at Stanford and neurosurgery training, specializing in epilepsy surgery, at Yale University.  He heads the Cognitive Neurophysiology Laboratory, which is centered on the opportunities to study the human brain afforded by the epilepsy surgery program at UCLA.  A small number of these patients have depth electrodes inserted in order to evaluate their seizures for subsequent surgery.  It is this opportunity that is used to record the responses of single neurons while the patient performs cognitive tasks. Some aspects of brain function that he and his collaborators have studied, particularly in the medial temporal lobe, are visual perception, memory, navigation, imagery, and motor function. He is the recipient of various awards, including the World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery Award (2017) and the Ramón y Cajal Award  (2015).


28/04/2015 - 09:00 - 29/04/2015 - 17:30