Alterations to the sense of agency across conscious states

Grant from the Carlsberg Foundation to new project at IMC

2017.01.27 | Anne-Mette Pedersen

Melanie Rosen, researcher at Macquire University Australia, has received The Carlsberg Foundation's Distinguished Postdoc Fellowship and will be new Postdoc at the Interacting Minds Centre.

The project has been granted 1,3 mio. kr. and will be conducted from March 2017 to February 2019


My goal is to develop a novel theory of sense of agency (SoA) that accounts for both waking and altered cognition that occurs in dreams. Current theories do not account for the full spectrum of alterations to the SoA, and discussion of dreaming SoA in the literature is limited. This project requires an interdisciplinary approach with a philosophical focus grounded by current empirical research on dreams and the SoA. I argue that the study of dreams can solve some controversies in the SoA literature, and conversely, studying theories of SoA can solve several debates over the types of experience we have in dreams. My goal is threefold: first, to develop a theory of the relationship between SoA and other cognitive features such as metacognition, awareness, memory and attention using evidence from dream research. This research will test the plausibility of the comparator or narrator/holistic models of the SoA. Second, to compare SoA over thought and movement in dreams, normal waking and psychosis. This will establish to what extent dreams are similar to waking experience regarding the SoA. Third, by analysing the SoA over both thought and movement, I wish to establish whether the SoA over the dream body is more akin SoA over the waking body, which involves intention, prediction and proprioceptive attenuation, or similar to an imagined body. This will determine whether the imagination or the hallucination model of dreaming is more plausible. If my pluralistic approach is correct, then SoA over the dream body should have elements of hallucination and imagination. My philosophical analysis will incorporate data from publicly accessible dream databases as well as the empirical and philosophical literature. This novel research method will begin to fill in the gaps of our current knowledge base on dreams and the SoA.


Melanie Rosen, Macquire University, Australia

Andreas Roepstorff, Professor, IMC