Is the sense of agency in schizophrenia influenced by resting-state variation in self-referential regions of the brain?

Jeffrey D. Robinson, Nils Frederic Wagner, Georg Northoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


Schizophrenia is a disturbance of the self, of which the attribution of agency is a major component. In this article, we review current theories of the Sense of Agency, their relevance to schizophrenia, and propose a novel framework for future research. We explore some of the models of agency, in which both bottom-up and top-down processes are implicated in the genesis of agency. We further this line of inquiry by suggesting that ongoing neurological activity (the brain's resting state) in self-referential regions of the brain can provide a deeper level of influence beyond what the current models capture. Based on neuroimaging studies, we suggest that aberrant activity in regions such as the default mode network of individuals with schizophrenia can lead to a misattribution of internally/externally generated stimuli. This can result in symptoms such as thought insertion and delusions of control. Consequently, neuroimaging can contribute to a more comprehensive conceptualization and measurement of agency and potential treatment implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-276
Number of pages7
JournalSchizophrenia Bulletin
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016



  • Agency
  • Default mode network
  • Resting-state activity
  • Schizophrenia
  • Self
  • Source monitoring hypothesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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