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Soc Neurosci. 2012;7(1):105-12. doi: 10.1080/17470919.2011.590602. Epub 2011 Sep 22.

Positive priming and intentional binding: eye-blink rate predicts reward information effects on the sense of agency.

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Department of Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Human society is strongly rooted in people's experiences of agency; that is, the pervasive feeling that one engages in voluntary behavior and causes one's own actions and resulting outcomes. Rewards and positive affect play an important role in the control of voluntary action. However, the role of positive reward signals in the sense of agency is poorly understood. This study examined effects of reward-related information on the sense of agency by employing the intentional binding paradigm. This paradigm measures the extent to which actions and their effects subjectively shift together across time, reflecting a crucial component of people's sense of agency. Results showed that intentional binding is stronger when participants are primed with reward-related information via brief exposure to positive pictures. Interestingly, this positive priming effect was moderated by baseline eye-blink rates (an indirect marker of striatal dopaminergic functioning); reward-related information increased intentional binding mainly for participants displaying higher baseline eye-blink rates. These findings suggest a possible role for striatal dopamine activity in the process by which reward-related information shapes the way people see themselves as agents.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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