A metacognitive model of the feeling of agency over bodily actions

Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research and Practice (forthcoming)
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Abstract

I offer a new metacognitive account of the feeling of agency over bodily actions. On this model the feeling of agency is the metacognitive monitoring of two cues: i) smoothness of action: done via monitoring the output of the comparison between actual and predicted sensory consequences of action and ii) action outcome: done via monitoring the outcome of action and its success relative to a prior intention. Previous research has shown that the comparator model offers a powerful explanation of the feeling of agency. However, within the literature there is a growing sense of unease with the model; a consensus seems to be building that the model is not up to the task of explaining all of the new discoveries made regarding the feeling of agency since its inception. Most problematically there are paradigms which deeply challenge the comparator model by suggesting that a weak feeling of agency can be elicited even when no motor prediction is formed. The new account offered here inherits the explanatory power of the comparator model whilst avoiding this problem.

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Glenn Carruthers
Macquarie University (PhD)

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