From movement to action: An EEG study into the emerging sense of agency in early infancy
Number of pages
SourceDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 42, (2020), article 100760
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC CO
PI Group MR Techniques in Brain Function
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
SubjectAction, intention, and motor control
Research into the developing sense of agency has traditionally focused on sensitivity to sensorimotor contingencies, but whether this implies the presence of a causal action-effect model has recently been called into question. Here, we investigated whether 3- to 4.5-month-old infants build causal action-effect models by focusing on behavioral and neural measures of violation of expectation. Infants had time to explore the causal link between their movements and audiovisual effects before the action-effect contingency was discontinued. We tested their ability to predict the consequences of their movements and recorded neural (EEG) and movement measures. If infants built a causal action-effect model, we expected to observe their violation of expectation in the form of a mismatch negativity (MMN) in the EEG and an extinction burst in their movement behavior after discontinuing the action-effect contingency. Our findings show that the group of infants who showed an MMN upon cessation of the contingent effect demonstrated a more pronounced limb-specific behavioral extinction burst, indicating a causal action-effect model, compared to the group of infants who did not show an MMN. These findings reveal that, in contrast to previous claims, the sense of agency is only beginning to emerge at this age.
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