•  3048
    The Self‐Evidencing Brain
    Noûs 48 (1). 2014.
    An exciting theory in neuroscience is that the brain is an organ for prediction error minimization (PEM). This theory is rapidly gaining influence and is set to dominate the science of mind and brain in the years to come. PEM has extreme explanatory ambition, and profound philosophical implications. Here, I assume the theory, briefly explain it, and then I argue that PEM implies that the brain is essentially self-evidencing. This means it is imperative to identify an evidentiary boundary between…Read more
  •  2207
    Predictive coding explains binocular rivalry: an epistemological review
    with Andreas Roepstorff and Karl Friston
    Cognition 108 (3): 687-701. 2008.
  •  1594
    The Rubber Hand Illusion Reveals Proprioceptive and Sensorimotor Differences in Autism Spectrum Disorders
    with Bryan Paton and Peter Enticott
    Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 2011.
    Autism spectrum disorder is characterised by differences in unimodal and multimodal sensory and proprioceptive processing, with complex biases towards local over global processing. Many of these elements are implicated in versions of the rubber hand illusion, which were therefore studied in high-functioning individuals with ASD and a typically developing control group. Both groups experienced the illusion. A number of differences were found, related to proprioception and sensorimotor processes. …Read more
  •  1434
    Delusions, Illusions and Inference under Uncertainty
    Mind and Language 28 (1): 57-71. 2013.
    Three challenges to a unified understanding of delusions emerge from Radden's On Delusion (2011). Here, I propose that in order to respond to these challenges, and to work towards a unifying framework for delusions, we should see delusions as arising in inference under uncertainty. This proposal is based on the observation that delusions in key respects are surprisingly like perceptual illusions, and it is developed further by focusing particularly on individual differences in uncertainty expect…Read more
  •  1128
    The neural correlates of consciousness: New experimental approaches needed?
    Consciousness and Cognition 18 (2): 428-438. 2009.
    It appears that consciousness science is progressing soundly, in particular in its search for the neural correlates of consciousness. There are two main approaches to this search, one is content-based (focusing on the contrast between conscious perception of, e.g., faces vs. houses), the other is state-based (focusing on overall conscious states, e.g., the contrast between dreamless sleep vs. the awake state). Methodological and conceptual considerations of a number of concrete studies show that…Read more
  •  1074
    The search for neural correlates of consciousness
    Philosophy Compass 2 (3). 2007.
    Most consciousness researchers, almost no matter what their views of the metaphysics of consciousness, can agree that the first step in a science of consciousness is the search for the neural correlate of consciousness (the NCC). The reason for this agreement is that the notion of ‘correlation’ doesn’t by itself commit one to any particular metaphysical view about the relation between (neural) matter and consciousness. For example, some might treat the correlates as causally related, while other…Read more
  •  1067
    Movement under uncertainty: The effects of the rubber-hand illusion vary along the nonclinical autism spectrum
    with Colin Palmer, Bryan Paton, and Peter Enticott
    Neuropsychologia. forthcoming.
    Recent research has begun to investigate sensory processing in relation to nonclinical variation in traits associated with the autism spectrum disorders (ASD). We propose that existing accounts of autistic perception can be augmented by considering a role for individual differences in top-down expectations for the precision of sensory input, related to the processing of state-dependent levels of uncertainty. We therefore examined ASD-like traits in relation to the rubber-hand illusion: an experi…Read more
  •  996
    Functional integration and the mind
    Synthese 159 (3): 315-328. 2007.
    Different cognitive functions recruit a number of different, often overlapping, areas of the brain. Theories in cognitive and computational neuroscience are beginning to take this kind of functional integration into account. The contributions to this special issue consider what functional integration tells us about various aspects of the mind such as perception, language, volition, agency, and reward. Here, I consider how and why functional integration may matter for the mind; I discuss a genera…Read more
  •  662
    The Sense of Self in the Phenomenology of Agency and Perception
    PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 13. 2007.
    The phenomenology of agency and perception is probably underpinned by a common cognitive system based on generative models and predictive coding. I defend the hypothesis that this cognitive system explains core aspects of the sense of having a self in agency and perception. In particular, this cognitive model explains the phenomenological notion of a minimal self as well as a notion of the narrative self. The proposal is related to some influential studies of overall brain function, and to psych…Read more
  •  661
    The hypothesis testing brain: Some philosophical applications
    Proceedings of the Australian Society for Cognitive Science Conference. 2010.
    According to one theory, the brain is a sophisticated hypothesis tester: perception is Bayesian unconscious inference where the brain actively uses predictions to test, and then refine, models about what the causes of its sensory input might be. The brain’s task is simply continually to minimise prediction error. This theory, which is getting increasingly popular, holds great explanatory promise for a number of central areas of research at the intersection of philosophy and cognitive neuroscienc…Read more
  •  596
    Individual Differences in Moral Behaviour: A Role for Response to Risk and Uncertainty?
    with Colin J. Palmer, Bryan Paton, Trung T. Ngo, Richard H. Thomson, and Steven M. Miller
    Neuroethics 6 (1): 97-103. 2013.
    Investigation of neural and cognitive processes underlying individual variation in moral preferences is underway, with notable similarities emerging between moral- and risk-based decision-making. Here we specifically assessed moral distributive justice preferences and non-moral financial gambling preferences in the same individuals, and report an association between these seemingly disparate forms of decision-making. Moreover, we find this association between distributive justice and risky decis…Read more
  •  594
    Delusions as Forensically Disturbing Perceptual Inferences
    with Vivek Rajan
    Neuroethics 5 (1): 5-11. 2012.
    Bortolotti’s Delusions and Other Irrational Beliefs defends the view that delusions are beliefs on a continuum with other beliefs. A different view is that delusions are more like illusions, that is, they arise from faulty perception. This view, which is not targeted by the book, makes it easier to explain why delusions are so alien and disabling but needs to appeal to forensic aspects of functioning
  •  583
    Skull-bound perception and precision optimization through culture
    with Bryan Paton, Josh Skewes, and Chris Frith
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36 (3): 222-222. 2013.
    Clark acknowledges but resists the indirect mind–world relation inherent in prediction error minimization (PEM). But directness should also be resisted. This creates a puzzle, which calls for reconceptualization of the relation. We suggest that a causal conception captures both aspects. With this conception, aspects of situated cognition, social interaction and culture can be understood as emerging through precision optimization
  •  568
    Equality, Efficiency, and Sufficiency: Responding to Multiple Parameters of Distributive Justice During Charitable Distribution
    with Colin J. Palmer, Bryan Paton, and Linda Barclay
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (4): 659-674. 2013.
    Distributive justice decision making tends to require a trade off between different valued outcomes. The present study tracked computer mouse cursor movements in a forced-choice paradigm to examine for tension between different parameters of distributive justice during the decision-making process. Participants chose between set meal distributions, to third parties, that maximised either equality (the evenness of the distribution) or efficiency (the total number of meals distributed). Across diff…Read more
  •  525
    Social cognition as causal inference: implications for common knowledge and autism
    with Colin Palmer
    In John Michael & Mattia Gallotti (eds.), Social Objects and Social Cognition, Springer. forthcoming.
    This chapter explores the idea that the need to establish common knowledge is one feature that makes social cognition stand apart in important ways from cognition in general. We develop this idea on the background of the claim that social cognition is nothing but a type of causal inference. We focus on autism as our test-case, and propose that a specific type of problem with common knowledge processing is implicated in challenges to social cognition in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This proble…Read more
  •  435
    Mind–brain identity and evidential insulation
    Philosophical Studies 153 (3): 377-395. 2011.
    Is it rational to believe that the mind is identical to the brain? Identity theorists say it is (or looks like it will be, once all the neuroscientific evidence is in), and they base this claim on a general epistemic route to belief in identity. I re-develop this general route and defend it against some objections. Then I discuss how rational belief in mind–brain identity, obtained via this route, can be threatened by an appropriately adjusted version of the anti-physicalist knowledge argument. …Read more
  •  370
    Conscious self-evidencing
    Review of Psychology and Philosophy. forthcoming.
    Self-evidencing describes the purported predictive processing of all self-organising systems, whether conscious or not. Self-evidencing in itself is therefore not sufficient for consciousness. Different systems may however be capable of self-evidencing in different, specific and distinct ways. Some of these ways of self-evidencing can be matched up with, and explain, several properties of consciousness. This carves out a distinction in nature between those systems that are conscious, as describe…Read more
  •  353
    Disorders of consciousness include coma, the vegetative state and the minimally conscious state. Such patients are often regarded as unconscious. This has consequences for end of life decisions for these patients: it is much easier to justify withdrawing life support for unconscious than conscious patients. Recent brain imaging research has however suggested that some patients may in fact be conscious.
  •  339
    How to entrain your evil demon
    Philosophy and Predictive Processing. 2017.
    The notion that the brain is a prediction error minimizer entails, via the notion of Markov blankets and self-evidencing, a form of global scepticism — an inability to rule out evil demon scenarios. This type of scepticism is viewed by some as a sign of a fatally flawed conception of mind and cognition. Here I discuss whether this scepticism is ameliorated by acknowledging the role of action in the most ambitious approach to prediction error minimization, namely under the free energy principle. …Read more
  •  324
    Top-down and bottom-up in delusion formation
    Philosophy Psychiatry and Psychology 11 (1): 65-70. 2004.
  •  224
    After being sorely neglected for some time, consciousness is well and truly back on the philosophical and scientific agenda. This entry provides a whistle-stop tour of some recent debates surrounding consciousness, with a particular focus on issues relevant to the scientific study of consciousness. The first half of this entry (the first to fourth sections) focuses on clarifying the explanandum of a science of consciousness and identifying constraints on an adequate account of consciousness; the…Read more
  •  196
    Explanation and two conceptions of the physical
    Erkenntnis 62 (1): 71-89. 2005.
    Any position that promises genuine progress on the mind-body problem deserves attention. Recently, Daniel Stoljar has identified a physicalist version of Russells notion of neutral monism; he elegantly argues that with this type of physicalism it is possible to disambiguate on the notion of physicalism in such a way that the problem is resolved. The further issue then arises of whether we have reason to believe that this type of physicalism is in fact true. Ultimately, one needs to argue for thi…Read more
  •  187
    Creatures that have different physical realizations than human beings may or may not be conscious. Ned Block’s ‘harder problem of consciousness’ is that naturalistic phenomenal realists have no conception of a rational ground for belief that they have or have not discovered consciousness in such a creature. Drawing on the notion of inference to the best explanation, it appears the arguments to these conclusions beg the question and ignore that explanation may be a guide to discovery. Thus, best …Read more
  •  174
    Capacities, explanation and the possibility of disunity
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 17 (2). 2003.
    Nancy Cartwright argues that so-called capacities, not universal laws of nature, best explain the often complex way events actually unfold. On this view, science would represent a world that is fundamentally "dappled", or disunified, and not, as orthodoxy would perhaps have it, a world unified by universal laws of nature. I argue, first, that the problem Cartwright raises for laws of nature seems to arise for capacities too, so why reject laws of nature? Second, that in so far as there is a prob…Read more
  •  173
    Predictive Processing and Body Representation
    In Routledge Handbook of Bodily Awareness, . forthcoming.
    We introduce the predictive processing account of body representation, according to which body representation emerges via a domain-general scheme of (long-term) prediction error minimisation. We contrast this account against one where body representation is underpinned by domain-specific systems, whose exclusive function is to track the body. We illustrate how the predictive processing account offers considerable advantages in explaining various empirical findings, and we draw out some implicati…Read more
  •  169
    Are There Levels of Consciousness?
    with Tim Bayne and Adrian M. Owen
    Trends in Cognitive Sciences 20 (6): 405-413. 2016.
    The notion of a level of consciousness is a key construct in the science of consciousness. Not only is the term employed to describe the global states of consciousness that are associated with post-comatose disorders, epileptic absence seizures, anaesthesia, and sleep, it plays an increasingly influential role in theoretical and methodological contexts. However, it is far from clear what precisely a level of consciousness is supposed to be. This paper argues that the levels-based framework for c…Read more
  •  166
    This chapter seeks to recover an approach to consciousness from a general theory of brain function, namely the prediction error minimization theory. The way this theory applies to mental and developmental disorder demonstrates its relevance to consciousness. The resulting view is discussed in relation to a contemporary theory of consciousness, namely the idea that conscious perception depends on Bayesian metacognition; this theory is also supported by considerations of psychopathology. This Baye…Read more
  •  166
    Unusual experiences, reality testing and delusions of alien control
    with Raben Rosenberg
    Mind and Language 20 (2): 141-162. 2005.
    Some monothematic types of delusions may arise because subjects have unusual experiences. The role of this experiential component in the pathogenesis of delusion is still not understood. Focussing on delusions of alien control, we outline a model for reality testing competence on unusual experiences. We propose that nascent delusions arise when there are local failures of reality testing performance, and that monothematic delusions arise as normal responses to these. In the course of this we add…Read more
  •  144
    Can neuroscience explain consciousness?
    with Christopher D. Frith
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 11 (7-8): 180-198. 2004.
    Cognitive neuroscience aspires to explain how the brain produces conscious states. Many people think this aspiration is threatened by the subjective nature of introspective reports, as well as by certain philosophical arguments. We propose that good neuroscientific explanations of conscious states can consolidate an interpretation of introspective reports, in spite of their subjective nature. This is because the relative quality of explanations can be evaluated on independent, methodological gro…Read more
  •  144
    Phenomenal Variability and Introspective Reliability
    Mind and Language 26 (3): 261-286. 2011.
    There is surprising evidence that introspection of our phenomenal states varies greatly between individuals and within the same individual over time. This puts pressure on the notion that introspection gives reliable access to our own phenomenology: introspective unreliability would explain the variability, while assuming that the underlying phenomenology is stable. I appeal to a body of neurocomputational, Bayesian theory and neuroimaging findings to provide an alternative explanation of the ev…Read more