Poster B120, Sunday, March 26, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Neural Correlates of a Prospective Sense of Agency
Nura Sidarus1,2, Matti Vuorre3, Patrick Haggard1; 1University College London, 2Ecole Normale Supérieure - PSL Research University, 3Columbia University
Sense of agency (SoA) refers to the feeling that we are in control of our own actions and, through them, of events in the outside world. One influential view claims that the SoA depends on a retrospective matching between the expected and actual outcome of an action. However, recent studies have revealed an additional, prospective component to the SoA, related to action selection. The present study aimed to clarify the neural mechanisms of this prospective mechanism by means of event-related potentials (ERPs). Participants responded to imperative left/right arrow stimuli that were preceded by either a compatible or an incompatible subliminal prime. After a variable delay, action outcomes were displayed, and subjective agency ratings were collected. Results show that incompatible priming disrupted action selection, and led to a reduction in SoA over action outcomes, relative to compatible priming. ERPs revealed that signals associated with SoA emerged already at the time of the action. This indexed an action monitoring process that signalled disruptions in action selection, and was linked to a reduction in SoA. Later, outcome monitoring was also associated with SoA. Thus, replicating previous studies, we found that an unconscious influence on action selection processes can affect the conscious experience of agency. Moreover, taking advantage of the temporal resolution of ERPs, we show that action monitoring signals influence SoA prospectively, as they emerge long before the outcome is known. Furthermore, the influence of this prospective, fluency-based, component on SoA is independent from retrospective outcome monitoring.
Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Motor control