Background The sense of agency, or the belief in action causality, is an elusive construct that impacts day-to-day experience and decision-making. Despite its relevance in a range of neuropsychiatric disorders, it is widely under-studied and remains difficult to measure objectively in patient populations. We developed and tested a novel cognitive measure of reward-dependent agency perception in an in-person and online cohort. Methods The in-person cohort consisted of 52 healthy control subjects and 20 subjects with depression and anxiety disorders (DA), including major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. The online sample consisted of 254 participants. The task consisted of an effort implementation for monetary rewards with computerized visual feedback interference and trial-by-trial ratings of self versus other agency. Results All subjects across both cohorts demonstrated higher self-agency after receiving positive-win feedback, compared to negative-loss feedback when the level of computer inference was kept constant. Patients with DA showed reduced positive feedback-dependent agency compared to healthy controls. Finally, in our online sample, we found that higher self-agency following negative-loss feedback was associated with worse anhedonia symptoms. Conclusion Together this work suggests how positive and negative environmental information impacts the sense of self-agency in healthy subjects, and how it is perturbed in patients with depression and anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0282727
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3 March
StatePublished - Mar 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Reward-related self-agency is disturbed in depression and anxiety'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this