ArgLab • Permanent Seminar

Andy Clark

Expecting the World: Prediction, Action, and the Embodied Mind

Perception, according to an emerging vision in computational and cognitive neuroscience, depends heavily on prediction. Rich, world-revealing perception of the kind we humans enjoy occurs, these stories suggest, when cascading neural activity matches the incoming sensory signal with a multi-level stream of
apt ‘top-down’ predictions. That same story suggests that perception, understanding, and imagination – which we might intuitively consider to be three distinct chunks of our mental machinery – are inextricably tied together, emerging as simultaneous results of that single underlying strategy. Action, surprisingly, may be treated using much of the same apparatus. In the talk, I first introduce this general explanatory schema, and then discuss these (and other) implications. I end by asking what all this suggests concerning the fundamental nature of our perceptual contact with the world.