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Bio: Prof. Patrick Haggard leads the "Action and Body" research group at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London

We feel we decide for ourselves what to do.  We also feel that our decisions and intentions lead to our physical actions.  Indeed, our culture and society seem to be built upon a concept of individuals as autonomous, conscious, responsible agents.  However, neuroscience has often struggled with the idea of voluntary action.  One key problem for mechanistic accounts of volition arises in trying to define the origin of voluntary actions in the brain.  Further, few neuroscientific accounts have captured the "sense of agency" that characteristically accompanies human goal-directed action.  I will report recent experimental work that attempts to tackle both of these problems.  I hope to show that intentional action is a neural mechanism in the human brain, and that it can be studied experimentally.