Brain activation patterns during memory of cognitive agency

Sophia Vinogradov, Tracy L. Luks, Gregory V. Simpson, Brian J. Schulman, Shenly Glenn, Amy E. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Agency is the awareness that one's own self is the agent or author of an action, a thought, or a feeling. The implicit memory that one's self was the originator of a cognitive event - the sense of cognitive agency - has not yet been fully explored in terms of relevant neural systems. In this functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we examined brain activation patterns differentiating memory for the source of previously self-generated vs. experimenter-presented word items from a sentence completion paradigm designed to be emotionally neutral and semantically constrained in content. Accurate memory for the source of self-generated vs. externally-presented word items resulted in activation of dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) bilaterally, supporting an emerging body of work that indicates a key role for this region in self-referential processing. Our data extend the function of mPFC into the domain of memory and the accurate retrieval of the sense of cognitive agency under conditions where agency was encoded implicitly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)896-905
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Agency
  • Medial prefrontal cortex
  • Self-referential processes
  • Source memory
  • fMRI

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