In and out of control: brain mechanisms linking fluency of action selection to self-agency in patients with schizophrenia

Martin Voss, Valérian Chambon, Dorit Wenke, Simone Kühn, Patrick Haggard
2017 Brain  
Sense of agency refers to the feeling of control over one's actions, and their consequences. It involves both predictive processes linked to action control, and retrospective "sense-making" causal inferences. Schizophrenia has been associated with impaired predictive processing, but the underlying mechanisms that impair patients' sense of agency remain unclear. We introduce a new, "prospective" aspect of agency and show that subliminally priming an action not only influences response times, but
more » ... also influences reported sense of agency over subsequent action outcomes. This effect of priming was associated with altered connectivity between frontal areas and the angular gyrus. The effects on response times and on frontal action selection mechanisms were similar in patients with schizophrenia and in healthy volunteers. However, patients showed no effects of priming on sense of agency, no primingrelated activation of angular gyrus, and no priming-related changes in fronto-parietal connectivity. We suggest angular gyrus activation reflects the experiences of agency, or nonagency, in part by processing action selection signals generated in the frontal lobes. The altered action awareness that characterises schizophrenia may be due to impaired communication between these areas.
doi:10.1093/brain/awx136 pmid:28899009 fatcat:tdvcac27zzcabosfd6i6phru4i