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Voluntary action and conscious awareness

Nature Neuroscience volume 5, pages 382385 (2002) | Download Citation

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Abstract

Humans have the conscious experience of 'free will': we feel we can generate our actions, and thus affect our environment. Here we used the perceived time of intentional actions and of their sensory consequences as a means to study consciousness of action. These perceived times were attracted together in conscious awareness, so that subjects perceived voluntary movements as occurring later and their sensory consequences as occurring earlier than they actually did. Comparable involuntary movements caused by magnetic brain stimulation reversed this attraction effect. We conclude that the CNS applies a specific neural mechanism to produce intentional binding of actions and their effects in conscious awareness.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by MRC, Wellcome Trust and Leverhulme Trust. S.C. was involved in experiment 1; J.K. was involved in experiment 2.

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Affiliations

  1. Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, 17 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AR, UK

    • Patrick Haggard
    • , Sam Clark
    •  & Jeri Kalogeras

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Patrick Haggard.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nn827