When moving without volition: implied self-causation enhances binding strength between involuntary actions and effects

Consciousness and Cognition 21 (1):501-506 (2012)
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Abstract

The conscious awareness of voluntary action is associated with systematic changes in time perception: The interval between actions and outcomes is experienced as compressed in time. Although this temporal binding is thought to result from voluntary movement and provides a window to the sense of agency, recent studies challenge this idea by demonstrating binding in involuntary movement. We offer a potential account for these findings by proposing that binding between involuntary actions and effects can occur when self-causation is implied. Participants made temporal judgements concerning a key press and a tone, while they learned to consider themselves as the cause of the effect or not. Results showed that implied self-causation increased temporal binding. Since intrinsic motor cues of movement were absent, these results suggest that sensory evidence about the key press caused binding in retrospect and in line with the participant’s sense of being an agent

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