Predictions, precision, and agentive attention

Andy Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ransom, Fazelpour, and Mole (this journal - 2017) raise an important puzzle for the ‘prediction error minimization’ account of cognitive processing. That account depicts all cognitive processing as fundamentally in the business of minimizing prediction errors concerning the evolving flow of sensory information. One of the cornerstones of these highly ambitious, would-be unifying accounts is their depiction of attention as nothing other than the process of optimizing the precision(inverse variance) of critical prediction error signals. But that story, Ransom et al. suggest, cannot accommodate voluntary shifts of attention. In this paper, I show why this challenge to the grand unifying project fails. It fails because it locates the origins of voluntary attention in complexes of unanalyzed desire rather than in changing complexes of beliefs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-119
Number of pages5
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Early online date8 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


  • attention
  • voluntary attention
  • prediction
  • prediction error minimization
  • mental action

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