Sense of Agency within a metacognitive framework
In our everyday life we move to interact with the environment surrounding us.
Most of the time we don't question who controls the movements we intentionally perform unless, of course, there is something wrong.
For example, let’s assume you are reading this paragraph on your computer by scrolling upand down the computer screen using your computer mouse. Your intention is to read the text and you do not need to think much about your movements. Everything goes smoothly and uninterrupted up to the point your mouse malfunctions and you can no more interact with your computer. You move but your movement no longer translates to a cursor movement onthe screen. This is when you experience what is commonly referred to as losing your sense of agency. This is also one of the ways sense of agency can be experimentally challenged in healthy participants. As in many neurological (e.g. Apraxia, Anosognosia, and Cerebral Palsy) and psychiatric conditions (e.g. Schizophrenia) people report a diminished sense of agency over their movements and consequences of these movements in the surrounding environment.
But what is it that we mean when we say sense of agency? Do we focus on our movements, or on the consequences of those movements in the environment? Further, are they both the same?
Through my PhD project I would like to answer these questions using a metacognitive framework to ensure that our experimental measures are free from confounds and systematic biases.