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Experience of action depends on intention, not body movement: An experiment on memory for mens rea.

Jensena, M; Vagnoni, E; Overgaard, M; Haggard, P; (2014) Experience of action depends on intention, not body movement: An experiment on memory for mens rea. Neuropsychologia , 55 pp. 122-127. 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.07.022. Green open access

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Abstract

How do we know whether our own actions were voluntary or involuntary? Intentional theories of sense of agency suggest that we consciously perceive the intentions that accompany our actions, but reconstructive theories suggest that we perceive our actions only through the body movements and other effects that they produce. Intentions would then be mere confabulations, and not bona fide experiences. Previous work on voluntary action has focused on immediate experiences of authorship, and few studies have considered memory for voluntary actions. We devised an experiment in which both voluntary action and involuntary movement always occurred at the same time, but could either involve the same hand (congruent condition), or different hands (incongruent condition). When signals from the voluntary and involuntary movements involved different hands, they could therefore potentially interfere in memory. We found that recall of a voluntary action was unaffected by an incongruent involuntary movement. In contrast, recall of an involuntary movement was strongly influenced by an incongruent voluntary action. Our results demonstrate an "intentional capture" of body movement by voluntary actions, in support of intentional theories of agency, but contrary to reconstructive theories. When asked to recall both actions and movements, people's responses are shaped by memory of what they intended to do, rather than by how their body moved.

Type: Article
Title: Experience of action depends on intention, not body movement: An experiment on memory for mens rea.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013.07.022
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2013....
Additional information: © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Keywords: Intentional capture, Sense of agency, Transcranial magnetic stimulation, Volition
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/1405589
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