On agency and body-ownership : phenomenological and neurocognitive reflections
The recent distinction between sense of agency and sense of body-ownership has attracted considerable empirical and theoretical interest. The respective contributions of central motor signals and peripheral afferent signals to these two varieties of body experience remain unknown. In the present review, we consider the methodological problems encountered in the empirical study of agency and body-ownership, and we then present a series of experiments that study the interplay between motor and sensory information. In particular, we focus on how multisensory signals interact with body representations to generate the sense of body-ownership, and how the sense of agency modulates the sense of body-ownership. Finally, we consider the respective roles of efferent and afferent signals for the experience of one's own body and actions, in relation to self-recognition and the recognition of other people's actions. We suggest that the coherent experience of the body depends on the integration of efferent information with afferent information in action contexts. Overall, whereas afferent signals provide the distinctive content of one's own body experience, efferent signals seem to structure the experience of one's own body in an integrative and coherent way.