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Can BCI paradigms induce feelings of agency and responsibility over movements?

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Nierula,  Birgit
Max Planck Research Group Pain Perception, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
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Citation

Nierula, B., & Sanchez-Vives, M. V. (2019). Can BCI paradigms induce feelings of agency and responsibility over movements? In Brain-computer interface research: A state-of-the-art summary 7 (pp. 103-114). Cham: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-05668-1_10.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-B5E7-B
Abstract
The sense of agency is the attribution of an action to ourselves, which allows us to distinguish our own actions from those of other people and gives us a feeling of control and responsibility for their outcomes. Under physiological conditions, the sense of agency typically accompanies all our actions. Further, it can even be experienced over an illusory owned body—that is, a surrogate body perceived as if it were our own. However, the extent to which actions controlled through a brain–computer interface (BCI) also induce feelings of agency and responsibility is not well known. In the following chapter, we will review the relevant literature on body ownership and agency in virtual reality (VR) embodiment and outline an experiment in which participants controlled a virtual body through different BCI protocols based either on sensorimotor activity or on visually evoked potentials. Our findings show that BCI protocols can induce feelings of agency and that those BCI protocols based on sensorimotor activity have an advantage over those based on activity in visual areas. We further show that BCI protocols based on sensorimotor activity can even induce feelings of responsibility over the outcomes of that action, a finding that raises important ethical implications. We give particular focus to subjective reports from the debriefing after the experiment about the experience of BCI-induced agency over the action of a virtual body.