The neural basis of agency: An fMRI study

Yukihito Yomogida, Motoaki Sugiura, Yuko Sassa, Keisuke Wakusawa, Atsushi Sekiguchi, Ai Fukushima, Hikaru Takeuchi, Kaoru Horie, Shigeru Sato, Ryuta Kawashima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


Agency, a feeling that the self is the cause of action, has a strong relationship to the processing of discrepancies between the predicted multi-sensory feedback from one's intended action and its actual outcome (hereafter, agency error). Although previous studies have explored the neural basis of agency by assessing the brain's response to agency error, the effects found are confounded by two types of error irrelevant to agency: a mismatch between different sensory inputs in general (sensory mismatch, SM error) and a basic response to any type of prediction error (oddball error). In this functional magnetic resonance imaging study, we identified the neural response specific to agency error by dissociating it from responses to SM and oddball errors. Subjects played a game in which they controlled an on-screen character. Neural responses to rare events of violated control and congruency between types of audio-visual feedback were compared to dissociate agency from SM error. In a separate session, subjects viewed repetitive motions of the character, and neural responses to rare events of unpredictable change in movement were identified as related to oddball error. Agency-error-specific activation was observed in the supplementary motor area (SMA), left cerebellum, right posterior parietal cortex (PPC), and right extrastriate body area (EBA). Oddball errors also activated areas near the PPC and EBA peaks. SM errors activated the pre-SMA and the right posterior superior temporal sulcus. Our results suggest that the SMA, cerebellum, and some parts of the PPC and EBA serve as the neural bases of agency.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)198-207
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Mar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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