Mistakes strengthen the temporal binding effect in the context of goal-directed actions
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Temporal binding is an illusion in which the temporal interval between two events appears compressed. In the context of intentional actions, this effect is observed as a compression of the perceived interval between these actions and their causal outcomes. This 'intentional binding effect' has been used to investigate the Sense of Agency, which is the experience of intentionally causing an outcome through volitional action. Intentional binding is reduced for negative outcomes such as error feedback, but the role of mistakes (e.g., errors of commission) for binding and agency has not been extensively studied. In our study, participants played a virtual game in which they attempted to 'splat' (hit) visual stimuli that looked like coloured bugs, using mouse clicks. On some trials, stimulus colours changed unpredictably immediately before actions were made, sometimes inducing mistakes. Actions were thus clearly identifiable as mistakes at the time of their onset before any outcome feedback had been provided. Participants reported shorter action-outcome intervals when stimuli changed, but only when this change caused a mistake according to the game's rules. This suggests that intentional binding is strengthened by errors of commission. We discuss how this effect may be accounted for by agency itself and via more general processes such as changes in arousal.
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