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Learning from informative losses boosts the sense of agency

Majchrowicz, B; Kulakova, E; Di Costa, S; Haggard, P; (2020) Learning from informative losses boosts the sense of agency. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 10.1177/1747021820958258. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Sense of agency, the feeling of having control over one's actions, is modulated by whether one's choices lead to desired or undesired outcomes. Learning similarly depends on outcome values from previous experience. In the current study, we evaluate a possible link between the sense of agency and learning, by investigating how intentional binding, an implicit measure of agency, changes during a probabilistic learning task. In two experiments, we show increased intentional binding in trials that follow losses, compared with trials that follow wins. Experiment 1 demonstrated that this post-error agency boost (PEAB) effect is rule-specific, as it did not occur if the trial following an error involved different action-outcome contingencies. Furthermore, PEAB was not modulated by the type of outcome presentation (monetary vs. affective). Experiment 2 showed that the PEAB effect can also occur when the current action involves a forced (as opposed to free) choice, but only when the previous, loss-provoking action was chosen freely. Thus, PEAB occurs when current actions are informed by outcomes of one's own previous action choices. Electroencephalography (EEG) data linked these effects to two event-related potential components, namely, the Feedback Related Negativity and the P300. Taken together, these results support the notion that PEAB reflects an adaptive property of human sense of agency, facilitating effective learning about the action-outcome structure of a specific task, to optimise future performance. By clarifying the conditions for enhancing the sense of agency through learning, this work adds to our understanding of human learning and agency.

Type: Article
Title: Learning from informative losses boosts the sense of agency
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/1747021820958258
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/1747021820958258
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Intentional binding, action selection, decision making, probabilistic learning, sense of agency, volitions
UCL classification: UCL
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/10112438
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