The Readiness Potential Reflects the Reliability of Action Consequence


Humans are capable of associating actions with their respective consequences if there is reliable contingency between them. The present study examined the link between the reliability of action consequence and the readiness potential (RP), which is a negative potential observed from about 1–2 s prior to the onset of an action with electroencephalography. In a condition of constant outcome, the participants' voluntary action always triggered beep sounds; thus, they were able to perceive the contingency between their action and the sound. In contrast, in a condition of inconstant outcome, the participants’ actions only triggered the sound in half the trials. We found that both the early and late RPs were larger in the condition of constant compared to the condition of inconstant outcome. Our results showed that the RPs preceding the voluntary action reflected the reliability of action consequence. In other words, the action-effect contingency enhanced neural activities prior to the action.

Scientific Reports, 8