How Does Sense of Agency Develop Across Adolescence?

Slack, Hannah R. (2023) How Does Sense of Agency Develop Across Adolescence? PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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A sense of agency (SoA) refers to an individual’s awareness of their control over their voluntary actions and the sensory consequences of those actions. Experiencing a veridical SoA is imperative to basic functioning as it facilitates effective goal-directed action. Despite this, a consensus on the trajectory at which the capacity to experience a SoA develops from childhood to adulthood has remained absent from past literature. To resolve this issue, SoA development was investigated by evaluating the influence of age on the functional efficiency of the forward model; the cognitive framework believed to generate a SoA. More specifically, the current research examined the extent to which children, adolescents and adults could, i) accurately predict the outcome of their action, and ii) update their action-outcome knowledge following post-action feedback; two skills indicative of a precise forward model.

A synchronisation-continuation task (chapter 3) was used to assess the impact of age on both the capacity to form veridical action-outcome predictions and update action-outcome knowledge in children, adolescents and adults. To isolate the effect of age on action-outcome prediction, a cued reaction time task (chapter 4) and a goal-switching task (chapter 5) were also administered to children, adolescents, and adults. Likewise, an outcome learning task (chapter 6) was used to assess how post-action learning changes from adolescence to adulthood. It was revealed that the frequency at which individuals engage in action-outcome prediction (chapter 4) and the quality of those predictions (chapters 3 and 5) improves with age. Similarly, the accuracy (chapter 3) and magnitude (chapter 6) to which individuals can update action-outcome knowledge in response to feedback was also found to refine with age. Moreover, the results of this thesis extend prior knowledge by suggesting that forward model precision, and thereby, the capacity to experience a SoA, develops with age across childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Jackson, Stephen, R.
Jackson, Georgina, M.
Ropar, Danielle
Keywords: sense of agency; adolescence; development; forward model; control
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Psychology
Item ID: 74204
Depositing User: Slack, Hannah
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2023 04:40
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2023 04:40

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