How Action Selection Influences the Sense of Agency: an ERP study.

Former Fyssen 2016

with Matti VUORRE et Patrick HAGGARD
NeuroImage Volume 150, 15 April 2017, Pages 1–13

« Sense of agency (SoA) refers to the feeling that we are in control of our actions and, through them, of events in the outside world. One influential view claims that the SoA depends on retrospectively matching the expected and actual outcomes of action. However, recent studies have revealed an additional, prospective component to SoA, driven by action selection processes. We used event-related potentials (ERPs) to clarify the neural mechanisms underlying prospective agency. Subliminal priming was used to manipulate the fluency of selecting a left or right hand action in response to a supraliminal target. These actions were followed by one of several coloured circles, after a variable delay. Participants then rated their degree of control over this visual outcome. Incompatible priming impaired action selection, and reduced sense of agency over action outcomes, relative to compatible priming. More negative ERPs immediately after the action, linked to post-decisional action monitoring, were associated with reduced agency ratings over action outcomes. Additionally, feedback-related negativity evoked by the outcome was also associated with reduced agency ratings. These ERP components may reflect brain processes underlying prospective and retrospective components of sense of agency respectively. »


NuraSidarusNura Sidarus completed her PhD at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, under the supervision of Prof. Patrick Haggard. She is now a Fyssen Foundation Post-doctoral Fellow at the Institut Jean Nicod (ENS, Paris), working with Valerian Chambon and Elisabeth Pacherie. Her work explores the relation between the sense of agency, action, and metacognition. In particular, she investigates how metacognition of action influences the sense of agency and action control, by means of behavioural, computational, and neuroimaging methods.

Here is a short Video about this work, selected for the People’s Choice Award of the Society for Neuroscience Brain Awareness Video Contest in 2014.

More publications:
Sidarus, N., Vuorre, M., Metcalfe, J., & Haggard, P. (2017). Investigating the prospective sense of agency: Effects of processing fluency, stimulus ambiguity, and response conflict. Frontiers in Psychology, 8: 545.

Beyer, F.*, Sidarus, N.*, Bonicalzi, S., & Haggard, P. (2016). Beyond self-serving bias: diffusion of responsibility reduces sense of agency and outcome monitoring. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

Sidarus, N., & Haggard, P. (2016). Difficult action decisions reduce the sense of agency: A study using the Eriksen flanker task. Acta Psychologica, 166, 1–11.doi