RESEARCH SUMMARY

I’m a lecturer in the Department of Psychology, at Royal Holloway University of London. I am interested in understanding how we make decisions and how we come to feel in control of our actions and their consequences, i.e. have a sense of agency. Our experience of agency is foundational to our societal notions of responsibility and freedom of choice.

Using behavioural, computational, and neuroimaging methods, I investigate influences on learning and decision-making, e.g. due to distracting stimuli, freedom of choice, confidence in a decision (aka metacognition), and how these also interact with our sense of agency. Moreover, I'm starting to explore how  these (meta)cognitive processes may become maladaptive and underlie psychiatric symptoms, such as depression, thanks to an ESRC New Investigator Grant.

During my postdoctoral research, thanks to a Fyssen Foundation Fellowship, I moved to the Institut Jean Nicod, and then to Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives et Computationnelles, at ENS, PSL Université Paris. Here, I investigated how we monitor our decisions and our actions, and how decision-making processes interact with learning about action outcomes, and with the sense of agency. I additionally started investigating how learning is influenced by freedom of choice. I developed new skills in computational modelling (reinforcement learning) and fMRI. 

 

I completed my PhD at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, under the supervision of Prof Patrick Haggard. During my PhD, I focussed on how action selection processes inform our experience of agency, independently of monitoring the outcomes of action. I used a variety of tasks to manipulate action selection, both consciously and unconsciously. Additionally, I used EEG to investigate the neural mechanisms underlying the sense of agency.

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SOME KEY QUESTIONS AND STUDIES

How choice freedom and difficulty influence decisions and learning
Hierarchical integration of information for the sense of agency
Impact of social contexts on the sense of agency
How decision difficulty influences the sense of agency

COLLABORATORS

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Jonathan Roiser

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL

Patrick Haggard

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL

Stefano Palminteri

Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives Computationnelles, ENS

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Tim Dalgleish

MRC, CBU,
Cambridge University

Frederike Beyer

Queen Mary University of London

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Sofia Bonicalzi

Ludwig-M​aximilians-Universität München

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Gary Brown

Royal Holloway

University of London

Valérian Chambon

Institut Jean Nicod, ENS

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Noham Wolpe

Cambridge University

© 2020 Nura Sidarus

© Portrait by David Dinis

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