Humans and other animals live in dynamic environments. To reliably manipulate the environment and attain their goals they would benefit from a constant modification of motor-responding based on responses' current effect on the current environment. It is argued that this is exactly what is achieved by a mechanism that reinforces responses which have led to accurate sensorimotor predictions. We further show that evaluations of a response's effectiveness can occur simultaneously, driven by at least two different processes, each relying on different statistical properties of the feedback and affecting a different level of responding. Specifically, we show the continuous effect of (a) a sensorimotor process sensitive only to the conditional probability of effects given that the agent acted on the environment (i.e., action-effects) and of (b) a more abstract judgement or inference that is also sensitive to the conditional probabilities of occurrence of feedback given no action by the agent (i.e., inaction-effects). The latter process seems to guide action selection (e.g., should I act?) while the former the manner of the action's execution. This study is the first to show that different evaluation processes of a response’s effectiveness influence different levels of responding.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by The Israel Science Foundation (ISF) grant number 339/16 and The Bi-national Science Foundation (BSF) grant number 2016/299 to B.E.
We would like to thank Prof. Jan De Houwer for his insights on previous versions of the manuscript. We would like to thank Rotem Ellenbogen and Shiran Sharabi (Tel-Hai College) for their help in running Experiment 1, Lilach Yona, Amier Kardosh and Rivka Aviv (University of Haifa, Israel) for their help in running experiments 2 through 4.
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.
- Action effectiveness
- Sense of agency
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuroscience (all)