Voluntary initiation of movement: multifunctional integration of subjective agency


This paper investigates subjective agency (SA) as a special type of efficacious action consciousness. Our central claims are, firstly, that SA is a conscious act of voluntarily initiating bodily motion. Secondly, we argue that SA is a case of multifunctional integration of behavioral functions being analogous to multisensory integration of sensory modalities. This is based on new perspectives on the initiation of action opened up by recent advancements in robot assisted neuro-rehabilitation which depends on the active participation of the patient and yields experimental evidence that there is SA in terms of a conscious act of voluntarily initiating bodily motion (phenomenal performance). Conventionally, action consciousness has been considered as a sense of agency (SoA). According to this view, the conscious subject merely echoes motor performance and does not cause bodily motion. Depending on sensory input, SoA is implemented by means of unifunctional integration (binding) and inevitably results in non-efficacious action consciousness. In contrast, SA comes as a phenomenal performance which causes motion and builds on multifunctional integration. Therefore, the common conception of the brain should be shifted toward multifunctional integration in order to allow for efficacious action consciousness. For this purpose, we suggest the heterarchic principle of asymmetric reciprocity and neural operators underlying SA. The general idea is that multifunctional integration allows conscious acts to be simultaneously implemented with motor behavior so that the resulting behavior (SA) comes as efficacious action consciousness. Regarding the neural implementation, multifunctional integration rather relies on operators than on modular functions. A robotic case study and possible experimental setups with testable hypotheses building on SA are presented.

DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00688

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@inproceedings{Grneberg2015VoluntaryIO, title={Voluntary initiation of movement: multifunctional integration of subjective agency}, author={Patrick Gr{\"{u}neberg and Hideki Kadone and Kenji Suzuki}, booktitle={Front. Psychol.}, year={2015} }