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

50 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 2006
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, a University of California, San Francisco Research and Education Allocation Committee grant (SV), and by NIH grant NS27900 (SV), and by a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Medical Research Training Fellowship (BJS).


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


Dive into the research topics of 'Brain activation patterns during memory of cognitive agency'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this