Awareness of voluntary action, rather than body ownership, improves motor control

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Awareness of the body is essential for accurate motor control. However, how this awareness influences motor control is poorly understood. The awareness of the body includes awareness of visible body parts as one’s own (sense of body ownership) and awareness of voluntary actions over that visible body part (sense of agency). Here, I show that sense of agency over a visible hand improves the initiation of movement, regardless of sense of body ownership. The present study combined the moving rubber hand illusion, which allows experimental manipulation of agency and body ownership, and the finger-tracking paradigm, which allows behavioral quantification of motor control by the ability to coordinate eye with hand movements. This eye–hand coordination requires awareness of the hand to track the hand with the eye. I found that eye–hand coordination is improved when participants experience a sense of agency over a tracked artificial hand, regardless of their sense of body ownership. This improvement was selective for the initiation, but not maintenance, of eye–hand coordination. These results reveal that the prospective experience of explicit sense of agency improves motor control, suggesting that artificial manipulation of prospective agency may be beneficial to rehabilitation and sports training techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Article number418
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec


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