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Dissociating Cognitive and Motoric Precursors of Human Self-Initiated Action

Khalighinejad, N; Brann, E; Dorgham, A; Haggard, P; (2019) Dissociating Cognitive and Motoric Precursors of Human Self-Initiated Action. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience , 31 (5) pp. 754-767. 10.1162/jocn_a_01380. Green open access

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Abstract

Across-trial variability of EEG decreases more markedly before self-initiated than before externally triggered actions, providing a novel neural precursor for volitional action. However, it remains unclear whether this neural convergence is an early, deliberative stage or a late, execution-related stage in the chain of cognitive processes that transform intentions to actions. We report two experiments addressing these questions. Participants viewed randomly moving dots on a screen. At a random time, all dots started moving coherently to the left or right side of the screen. Participants were rewarded for correctly responding to the direction of coherent dot movement. However, the waiting time before coherent dot motion onset could be extremely long. Participants had the option to skip waiting by pressing a "skip" key. These self-initiated "skips" were compared with blocks where participants were instructed to skip. EEG variability decreased more markedly before self-initiated compared with externally triggered "skip" actions, replicating previous findings. Importantly, this EEG convergence was stronger at frontomidline electrodes than at either the electrode contralateral or ipsilateral to the hand assigned to the "skip" action in each block (Experiment 1). Furthermore, convergence was stronger when availability of skip responses was "rationed," encouraging deliberate planning before skipping (Experiment 2). This suggests that the initiation of voluntary actions involves a bilaterally distributed, effector-independent process related to deliberation. A consistent process of volition is detectable during early, deliberative planning and not only during late, execution-related time windows.

Type: Article
Title: Dissociating Cognitive and Motoric Precursors of Human Self-Initiated Action
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1162/jocn_a_01380
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1162/jocn_a_01380
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10076287
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