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Cortical information flow during inferences of agency

By Myrthel Dogge, Dennis Hofman, Maria Boersma, H Chris Dijkerman and Henk Aarts


Building on the recent finding that agency experiences do not merely rely on sensorimotor information but also on cognitive cues, this exploratory study uses electroencephalographic recordings to examine functional connectivity during agency inference processing in a setting where action and outcome are independent. Participants completed a computerized task in which they pressed a button followed by one of two color words (red or blue) and rated their experienced agency over producing the color. Before executing the action, a matching or mismatching color word was pre-activated by explicitly instructing participants to produce the color (goal condition) or by briefly presenting the color word (prime condition). In both conditions, experienced agency was higher in matching vs. mismatching trials. Furthermore, increased electroencephalography (EEG)-based connectivity strength was observed between parietal and frontal nodes and within the (pre)frontal cortex when color-outcomes matched with goals and participants reported high agency. This pattern of increased connectivity was not identified in trials where outcomes were pre-activated through primes. These results suggest that different connections are involved in the experience and in the loss of agency, as well as in inferences of agency resulting from different types of pre-activation. Moreover, the findings provide novel support for the involvement of a fronto-parietal network in agency inferences

Topics: sense of agency, inferences, phase synchronization, EEG, connectivity, goal-directed processes, outcome priming
Year: 2014
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