From Adult Finger Tapping to Fetal Heart Beating: Retracing the Role of Coordination in Constituting Agency

Top Cogn Sci. 2018 Jan;10(1):18-35. doi: 10.1111/tops.12305. Epub 2017 Nov 3.


Sense of agency can be defined as the self-awareness of bodily movement, whereas extended agency as the self-awareness of affecting, through movement, events concomitant with movement. As a distinctive manifestation of agency, we review Spizzo's effect. This effect arises when agents coordinate their rhythmic movements with visual pulses. Once coordination is established, agents feel controlling the onset or the offset of the pulses through their movements. Spizzo's effect, therefore, constitutes a manifest case of extended agency, in which agents are aware of controlling, through movement, the pulses temporally concomitant with movement. We propose that sense of agency requires continuity of kinesthesia, which in turn requires the continuity of selfhood. The continuity of kinesthesia is necessarily deduced from the consistent kinematics observed in movements, whereas the continuity of selfhood may stem from the patterns of rhythmic coordination that humans encounter ever since intrauterine life. The primacy of these patterns in adults is in accordance with phenomena such as Spizzo's effect, which require coordination to be induced. We, therefore, propose coordination as the fundamental interaction from which selfhood, kinesthesia, and agency arise.

Keywords: Coordination; Extended agency; Finger tapping; Kinesthesia; Selfhood; Spizzo's effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Heart Rate, Fetal / physiology
  • Humans
  • Kinesthesis / physiology*
  • Motion Perception / physiology*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Time Perception / physiology*