FRAL - AAP franco-allemand

Functional and neurophysiological basis of voluntary action control: RT, TMS, and EEG studies – VAC

Submission summary

Humans either carry out actions to produce certain effects in the environmentmeant to meet the agent's goals; or they carry out actions to accommodate to environmental demands. The first type of action may be referred to as intention-based or voluntary, the latter kind may be referred to as stimulus-based or reactive.
Recent research suggests that stimulus- and intention-based actions are controlled by different neural structures. Moreover, the two "routes to action" work in a different fashion: In the stimulus-based mode, subjects hand over control to the stimuli, in that the system merely acts reflexively upon presentation of a stimulus in a pre-specified way. In this mode, actions are selected with respect to their environmental sensory antecedents. In the intention-based mode, actions are guided by the ideomotor principle. According to the ideomotor theory, voluntary action control is based on learned associations between movements and their perceivable consequences. An intention-based action, so the ideomotor theory, can be triggered by anticipating these consequences.
We will investigate the cognitive and neurophysiological basis of stimulus- and intention-based actions along three axes:
• Mechanisms of intention-based action control and functional differences between intention- and stimulus-based actions.
• Role of distal sensory consequences in intention-based action control.
• Coordination of intention- and stimulus-based action.
We will approach these issues with the help of techniques coming from two disciplines:
• Experimental Psychology and psychophysics (reaction times, detection thresholds).
• Neurophysiology (transcranial magnet stimulation [TMS], event-related potentials [ERPs])
Our goals are:
• to investigate the functional an neurophysiological underpinnings of action control.
• to devise and implement new neuroscientific techniques opening up further sophisticated investigation of the topic.
• to establish a research axis CNRS LPP / MPI CBS on the topic of neurofunctional antecedents of action control.
Because the concept of voluntary action is so pervasive in human sciences, the research will also have wider impact on ethical (accountability) and philosophical issues (free will). Moreover focusing on the sensorimotor basis of voluntary action may help to bridge scientific approaches that are common in health, social, and personality psychology.

Project coordination

Florian WASZAK (CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE - DELEGATION REGIONALE ILE-DE-FRANCE SECTEUR PARIS A)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.

Partner

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE - DELEGATION REGIONALE ILE-DE-FRANCE SECTEUR PARIS A

Help of the ANR 176,941 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 36 Months

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