Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Every day we make attributions about how our actions and the actions of others cause consequences in the world around us. It is unknown whether we use the same implicit process in attributing causality when observing others' actions as we do when making our own. The aim of this research was to investigate the neural processes involved in the implicit sense of agency we form between actions and effects, for both our own actions and when watching others' actions. Using an interval estimation paradigm to elicit intentional binding in self-made and observed actions, we measured the EEG responses indicative of anticipatory processes before an action and the ERPs in response to the sensory consequence. We replicated our previous findings that we form a sense of implicit agency over our own and others' actions. Crucially, EEG results showed that tones caused by either self-made or observed actions both resulted in suppression of the N1 component of the sensory ERP, with no difference in suppression between consequences caused by observed actions compared with self-made actions. Furthermore, this N1 suppression was greatest for tones caused by observed goal-directed actions rather than non-action or non-goal-related visual events. This suggests that top–down processes act upon the neural responses to sensory events caused by goal-directed actions in the same way for events caused by the self or those made by other agents.