Embodied prediction

Andrew Clark

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Versions of the “predictive brain” hypothesis rank among the most promising and the most conceptually challenging visions ever to emerge from computational and cognitive neuroscience. In this paper, I briefly introduce (section 1) the most radical and comprehensive of these visions—the account of “active inference”, or “action-oriented predictive processing” (Clark 2013a), developed by Karl Friston and colleagues. In section 2, I isolate and discuss four of the framework’s most provocative claims: (i) that the core flow of information is top-down, not bottom-up, with the forward flow of sensory information replaced by the forward flow of prediction error; (ii) that motor control is just more top-down sensory prediction; (iii) that efference copies, and distinct “controllers”, can be replaced by top-down predictions; and (iv) that cost functions can fruitfully be replaced by predictions. Working together, these four claims offer a tantalizing glimpse of a new, integrated framework for understanding perception, action, embodiment, and the nature of human experience. I end (section 3) by sketching what may be the most important aspect of the emerging view: its ability to embed the use of fast and frugal solutions (as highlighted by much work in robotics and embodied cognition) within an over-arching scheme that includes more structured, knowledge-intensive strategies, combining these fluently and continuously as task and context dictate.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOpen Mind
Subtitle of host publicationFrankfurt am Main: MIND Group
EditorsThomas Metzinger, Jennifer Windt
PublisherOpen MIND. Frankfurt am Main: MIND Group.
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9783958570115
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015


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  • Extended Knowledge

    Pritchard, D., Clark, A., Kallestrup, J., Carter, J. A. & Palermos, S. O.



    Project: Research

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