Self-awareness and action

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, 17 Queen Square, WC1N 3AR, London, UK.
Current Opinion in Neurobiology (Impact Factor: 6.63). 05/2003; 13(2):219-24. DOI: 10.1016/S0959-4388(03)00043-6
Source: PubMed


In this review we discuss how we are aware that actions are self-generated. We review behavioural data that suggest that a prediction of the sensory consequences of movement might be used to label actions and their consequences as self-generated. We also describe recent functional neuroimaging experiments and studies of neurological and psychiatric patients, which suggest that the parietal cortex plays a crucial role in the awareness of action.

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Available from: Chris D Frith, Oct 14, 2015
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    • "Referring to a forward model of motor control (Blakemore & Frith, 2003), we explained this puzzling pathology proposing that in these AHP patients a damaged comparator, in charge of detecting the mismatch between movement, no movement conditions, is the cause of the denial behavior while the persistence of normal intention to move is the cause of the " erroneous " motor awareness that lead the patients to claim their movement normality. Anatomical findings support this theory. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: Previous findings suggest that, in anosognosic patients, their illusory motor experience is based on a "normal" motor intention and planning for the paralyzed limbs. However, these studies involved proximal muscles (shoulder) that can be mediated by the ipsilateral (intact) cortex more than distal muscles (fingers). In the present study, we asked whether, in anosognosic patients, the spared motor intention for the paralyzed limb can go as far as to influence kinematic parameters of distal movements. Method: Six hemiplegic patients (1 with and 5 without anosognosia) were required to reach and grasp with both hands targets of the same or different size, attached to a plinth. Maximum grip aperture of the right (intact) hand was recorded using an infrared motion capture system. All patients were evaluated with a specific battery for anosognosia and different neurpsychological test. Results: In the patient affected by anosognosia for hemiplegia, the grip aperture of the healthy hand was influenced by the intended (but not executed) movement of the plegic hand when the patient was trying to reach to grasp targets of different size, F(2, 14) = 11.87, p < .001. Patients affected by hemiplegia (without anosognosia) didn't show any interference effect between the plegic and healthy hand even when they were asked to reach to grasp targets of different size. Conclusions: Our results confirm the hypothesis that a spared intention-programming system within the contralateral (damaged) cortex can go as far as to influence distal kinematic parameters of the healthy hand of patients affected by anosognosia for hemiplegia. (PsycINFO Database Record
    Neuropsychology 09/2015; 29(5):776-781. DOI:10.1037/neu0000182 · 3.27 Impact Factor
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    • "Indeed in adults , free will is not just a tool for explaining human actions in others or in general ; it is fun - damental to our agentive experience . Simple actions , such as moving my hand across a surface , or lifting my finger to press a button , feel to us as if they are freely willed – not caused by external forces , but rather by ' ' ourselves ' ' ( Blakemore & Frith , 2003 ; Haggard & Tsakiris , 2009 ; Wegner , 2002 ) . In Experiments 2 and 3 , we ask how chil - dren reason about choice as it applies to their own actions . "
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    ABSTRACT: Our folk psychology includes intuitions about free will; we believe that our intentional acts are choices and that, when such actions are not constrained, we are free to act otherwise. In a series of five experiments, we ask children about their own and others' freedom of choice and about the physical and mental circumstances that place limitations on that freedom. We begin with three experiments establishing a basis for this understanding at age four. We find that 4-year-olds endorse their own and others' ability to "do otherwise" only when they or others are free to choose a course of action, but not when others' actions are physically impossible (Experiment 1), their own actions are physically constrained (Experiment 2), and their own actions are epistemically constrained (Experiment 3). We then examine developmental changes in children's understanding of actions and alternatives that lead to more adult-like free will intuitions. Across two experiments, 6-year-olds, but not 4-year-olds, endorse another person's (Experiment 4) or their own (Experiment 5) freedom to act against stated desires. These age-related changes suggest relationships between a belief in free will and other cognitive and conceptual developments in theory of mind, self-control and self-awareness that take place in early childhood. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Cognition 05/2015; 138. DOI:10.1016/j.cognition.2015.01.003 · 3.63 Impact Factor
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    • "These problems may result from abnormalities in processes underlying the experience of self-agency — i.e., the feeling that one causes one's own actions and the consequences of those actions. Indeed, patients often experience difficulties in distinguishing their own actions and subsequent outcomes from those produced by others (Schneider, 1957; Blakemore and Frith, 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: People usually experience agency over their actions and subsequent outcomes. These agency inferences over action-outcomes are essential to social interaction, and occur when an actual outcome corresponds with either a specific goal (goal-based), and matches with action-outcome information that is subtly pre-activated in the situation at hand (prime-based). Recent research showed that schizophrenia patients exhibit goal-based inferences, but not prime-based inferences. Intrigued by these findings, and underscoring their potential role in explaining poor social functioning, we replicate patients' deficit in prime-based agency inferences. Additionally, we exclude the account that patients are unable to visually process and attend to primed information. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
    Schizophrenia Research 04/2015; 164(1-3). DOI:10.1016/j.schres.2015.03.015 · 3.92 Impact Factor
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