Recent work in cognitive and computational neuroscience depicts the human cortex as a multi-level prediction engine. This ‘predictive processing’ framework shows great promise as a means of both understanding and integrating the core information processing strategies underlying perception, reasoning, and action. But how, if at all, do emotions and sub-cortical contributions fit into this emerging picture? The fit, we shall argue, is both profound and potentially transformative. In the picture we develop, online cognitive function cannot be assigned to either the cortical or the sub-cortical component, but instead emerges from their tight co-ordination. This tight co-ordination involves processes of continuous reciprocal causation that weave together bodily information and ‘top-down’ predictions, generating a unified sense of what’s out there and why it matters. The upshot is a more truly ‘embodied’ vision of the predictive brain in action.
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For this usage, see Clark (2013).
This helps make sense of recent work showing that top-down effects (expectation and context) impact processing even in early visual processing areas such as V1—see Petro et al. (2014) and Petro and Muckli (2016). Recent work in cognitive neuroscience has begun to suggest some of the detailed ways in which biological brains might implement such multi-level prediction machines—see Bastos et al. (2012).
See Clark (2014, chapter 7).
A driver is traditionally distinguished from a modulator. Drivers, as the name suggests, are seen as primary transmitters of information whereas modulators alter the impact of that information. Driver inputs to a thalamic relay are thus diagnostic of the function of that relay, whereas modulator inputs are not—see Sherman and Guillery (2011). Within PP, precision-weighting acts a kind of universal modulator.
This is a contemporary version of the profoundly ‘motocentric’ vision of the brain suggested in the classic work by Churchland et al. (1994).
Such a perceptual realm is constructed in a fashion that is deeply ‘narcissistic’ in exactly the sense of Akins (2006).
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Miller, M., Clark, A. Happily entangled: prediction, emotion, and the embodied mind. Synthese 195, 2559–2575 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-017-1399-7
- Predictive processing
- Affective neuroscience
- Embodied mind
- Affordance competition