Event Abstract

Active inference, free-energy and the Bayesian brain

  • 1 University College London, United Kingdom

This presentation will consider action, perception and cognition as emergent phenomena under one unifying perspective. This Helmholtzian perspective regards the brain as a (generative) model of its environment. The imperative for any brain then becomes to maximise the (Bayesian) evidence for its model of the world. We will see that this is not just mandated for the brain but for any self-organizing system that resists a natural tendency to disorder in a changing environment. More specifically, maximizing evidence (or minimizing surprise) leads, in a fairly straightforward way, to an understanding of action as active inference and perception in terms of predictive coding (cf, the Bayesian brain hypothesis). These are two aspects of exactly the same principle; namely, the minimization of a quantity (free-energy) that bounds the log-evidence for models of our world. This principle can be derived from our very existence. Put simply, we sample the world to maximise the evidence for our existence. I will try to illustrate the basic idea by presenting examples of perceptual categorization, learning and action-observation that speak to current issues in cognitive neuroscience.

Keywords: Bayesian brain hypothesis, free-energy

Conference: XI International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON XI), Palma, Mallorca, Spain, 25 Sep - 29 Sep, 2011.

Presentation Type: Keynote Lecture

Topic: Keynote Lectures

Citation: Friston K (2011). Active inference, free-energy and the Bayesian brain. Conference Abstract: XI International Conference on Cognitive Neuroscience (ICON XI). doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2011.207.00005

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Received: 02 Nov 2011; Published Online: 08 Nov 2011.

* Correspondence: Dr. Karl Friston, University College London, London, United Kingdom, k.friston@ucl.ac.uk

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