Brain and Behaviour Seminar
Dr James Moore, Goldsmiths
Was that me? Exploring the 'sense of agency' in health and disease?
‘Sense of agency’ refers to the experience of initiating and controlling our actions in order to influence events in the outside world. The sense of agency is intimately bound up with notions of freedom and responsibility and therefore plays an integral part in our mental and social lives. Moreover, unusual experiences of agency are characteristic of certain psychiatric and neurological disorders. It is therefore imperative that we unpack the neurocognitive basis of this core aspect of conscious experience.
In the first half of this talk I will describe a novel implicit measure of sense of agency based on the subjective experience of time. I will then present experiments we have carried out in healthy adults and patients that explore the brain basis of sense of agency. I will propose that the brain regions and systems highlighted by these experiments are likely to underpin predictive aspects of sense of agency.
In the second half of the talk I will explore the possibility that prediction is not the only source of information contributing to sense of agency. I will present behavioural data from both healthy adults and patients with schizophrenia that seem to show that postdictive mechanisms also play a role. In light of these findings I will conclude by suggesting that sense of agency may be best understood in terms of the optimal integration of various agency ‘cues’.