Anterior insula activity and the effect of agency on the Stimulus-Preceding Negativity

Steven A. Hackley*, Takahiro Hirao, Keiichi Onoda, Keiko Ogawa, Hiroaki Masaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


If you know that you are the author of a freely chosen action and that you bear responsibility for its outcome, then you are said to have “a sense of agency.” When there is a delay between action and outcome, this response must be remembered if you are to learn from the experience. Previous studies have shown that the Stimulus-Preceding Negativity (SPN) recorded during the delay interval is larger under conditions that foster a sense of agency. In an EEG experiment (N = 27), we confirmed that the SPN is larger when participants have a choice between two responses in a gambling task as compared to when there is only a single button and the computer determines the monetary outcome. This SPN agency effect was largest over right prefrontal cortex and it did not vary significantly between trial blocks in which only gains or only losses were possible. Participants in a second experiment (N = 26) performed the same task while activity in anterior insular cortex, a known SPN generator, was measured via functional magnetic resonance image (fMRI). An essentially identical pattern of results was obtained: Activity was greater on choice than no-choice trials, especially for the right hemisphere, and no effect of contextual valence was observed. Although parallel observations such as these cannot warrant causal inference, our findings are consistent with the assumption that anterior insular cortex contributes to the effect of agency on the SPN.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13519
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Apr 1


  • Stimulus-Preceding Negativity (SPN)
  • anterior insular cortex
  • event-related potentials
  • fMRI
  • sense of agency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Biological Psychiatry


Dive into the research topics of 'Anterior insula activity and the effect of agency on the Stimulus-Preceding Negativity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this