TMS stimulation over the inferior parietal cortex disrupts prospective sense of agency

Chambon, Valérian; Moore, James W. and Haggard, Patrick. 2015. TMS stimulation over the inferior parietal cortex disrupts prospective sense of agency. Brain Structure and Function, 220(6), pp. 3627-3639. ISSN 1863-2653 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Sense of agency refers to the feeling of controlling an external event through one's own action. On one influential view, sense of agency is inferred after an action, by "retrospectively" comparing actual effects of actions against their intended effects. However, it has been recently shown that earlier processes, linked to action selection, may also contribute to sense of agency, in advance of the action itself, and independently of action effects. The inferior parietal cortex (IPC) may underpin this "prospective" contribution to agency, by monitoring signals relating to fluency of action selection in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Here, we combined transcranial stimulation (TMS) with subliminal priming of action selection to investigate the causal role of these regions in the prospective coding of agency. In a first experiment, we showed that TMS over left IPC at the time of action selection disrupts perceived control over subsequent effects of action. In a second experiment, we exploited the temporal specificity of single-pulse TMS to pinpoint the exact timing of IPC contribution to sense of agency. We replicated the reduction in perceived control at the point of action selection, while observing no effect of TMS-induced disruption of IPC at the time of action outcomes.

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JWM and PH were supported by EU project VERE. VC was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship of the Région Ile-de-France (Paris), ANR-10-LABX-0087 IEC and ANR-10-IDEX-0001-02 PSL*. PH was supported by a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship and an ESRC Professorial Fellowship (Grant No. RES-062-23-2183), and ERC Advanced Grant HUMVOL.


Action selection; Agency; Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; Inferior parietal cortex; Single-pulse TMS

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11 August 2014Accepted
19 August 2014Published Online
November 2015Published

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Date Deposited:

29 Aug 2014 11:32

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:00

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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