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
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    • ", 2013b ) by showing that efferent motor information is integrated and enhances the illusion . From a theoretical perspective , this is in line with accounts suggesting that action and motor signals have an important role in the formation of the sense of bodily self ( Knoblich , 2002 ; van den Bos and Jeannerod , 2002 ; Blakemore and Frith , 2003 ; Schütz - Bosbach et al . , 2006 ; Tsakiris et al . "
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    ABSTRACT: Experimental manipulations of body ownership have indicated that multisensory integration is central to forming bodily self-representation. Voluntary self-touch is a unique multisensory situation involving corresponding motor, tactile and proprioceptive signals. Yet, even though self-touch is frequent in everyday life, its contribution to the formation of body ownership is not well understood. Here we investigated the role of voluntary self-touch in body ownership using a novel adaptation of the rubber hand illusion (RHI), in which a robotic system and virtual reality allowed participants self-touch of real and virtual hands. In the first experiment, active and passive self-touch were applied in the absence of visual feedback. In the second experiment, we tested the role of visual feedback in this bodily illusion. Finally, in the third experiment, we compared active and passive self-touch to the classical RHI in which the touch is administered by the experimenter. We hypothesized that active self-touch would increase ownership over the virtual hand through the addition of motor signals strengthening the bodily illusion. The results indicated that active self-touch elicited stronger illusory ownership compared to passive self-touch and sensory only stimulation, and indicate an important role of active self-touch in the formation of bodily self.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · Frontiers in Psychology
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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
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Neuropsychology
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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.
    Full-text · Article · May 2015 · Cognition
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