Department of Philosophy
Department of Philosophy

Andy Clark (The University of Edinburgh)

Spring 2011 Colloquium Series

Fri, February 11, 2011 | WAG 316

3:30 PM


Whatever Next? Predictive Brains and the Nature of Perception, Thought, and Action.

Brains, according to an increasingly influential research program in computational neuroscience, are essentially prediction machines. They are bundles of cells whose evolved role is to enable the right action to occur at the right time, and this is achieved by minimizing prediction error (thus minimizing informational surprise) within a hierarchy of cortical processing regions. This ‘hierarchical prediction machine’ approach yields a unifying model of perception and action, and may neatly capture the special contribution of neural processing to adaptive success. In this talk, I first lay out the key elements of this approach. I then explore a variety of pitfalls and challenges, spanning the evidential, the methodological, and the more properly conceptual. Along the way I try to suggest how such approaches might impact our more general vision of mind, experience, and agency.

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