Imagination, endogenous attention, and mental agency

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper develops a mechanistic account of basic mental agency by identifying similarities between two of its major exemplars: endogenous attention and imagination. Five key similarities are identified: (i) that both capacities are driven by currently prioritised goals that are either person-level or apt to become person-level. (ii) that both deliver their outputs to the working memory (iii) that both range across all and only conceptual contents; (iv) that both proceed under the guidance of norms and/or habits; and (v) that both directly activate rather than inhibit content. These five features are consolidated by proposing that basic mental agency is essentially the power to call for conceptual content and hold it within our working memories.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Early online date21 Apr 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Apr 2023


  • Attention
  • Imagination
  • Mental agency


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