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Title: Quantifying the subjective experience of initiating and monitoring actions, in health and disease
Author: Di Costa, Steven
ISNI:       0000 0004 7228 3898
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2017
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Human movement is a ubiquitous behaviour that is performed to achieve goals by affecting changes in the outside world. The creation of the manmade environment has depended on our ability to plan, execute and monitor movements. This thesis will investigate the subjective experience and underlying brain processes that accompany voluntary and outcome-directed actions. Experiments in this work will make use of an established paradigm to quantify and compare participants’ perceptions of their own actions. Specifically, through the use of a rotating clock, participants report when they perceived action-relevant events to occur, such as the intention to act, the action itself, or the outcome produced by the action. The experience of producing an action, even in the absence of a desired outcome, varies among populations. This thesis will compare the experience of volition in patients with Parkinson’s disease and in healthy controls. It will be seen that manipulation of dopamine availability, either through medication or deep brain stimulation, influences the subjective experience of making an action. Using EEG, it will be seen that differences in the experience of volition are associated with the time-course of activation in brain areas typically related to movement initiation. The sense of agency, a feeling of control of over one’s own actions and their outcomes, will also be investigated by combining the paradigm described above with an established decision-making task. Results from a series of experiments will reveal a sequential effect in which an implicit measure of the sense of agency (intentional binding) is stronger following actions that produce negative outcomes. Finally, this novel effect, which appears to be related to learning processes, will be subjected to meta-analysis. The results obtained in this work will inform further research into volition, motor-control and movement-related pathology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available