Friston’s theory of everything

Bayesian Brain theory flips this idea around again so that cognition is a cybernetic or autopoietic loop. The brain instead attempts to predict its inputs. The output kind of comes first. The brain anticipates the likely states of its environment to allow it to react with fast, unthinking, habit. The shortcut basal ganglia level of processing. It is only when there is a significant prediction error—some kind of surprise encountered—that the brain has to stop and attend, and spend time forming a more considered response. So output leads the way. The brain maps the world not as it is, but as it is about to unfold. And more importantly, how it is going to unfold in terms of the actions and intentions we are just about to impose on it. Cognition is embodied or enactive…

Friston is largely a modest person, but he is not afraid to bang the table a little more these days. At the 2021 Brain Connectivity Workshop, Friston asserted he has done nothing less than found a fourth branch of physics. You have Newtonian mechanics, quantum mechanics, and statistical mechanics (that is, thermodynamics), and now you can have Bayesian mechanics—the physics of systems which can exert a predictive control over their worlds. We can debate the truth of this claim. However, I applaud the ambition. Neuroscience establishing its own deep mathematical foundation at last. This is why I pitch the Bayesian Brain as the big thing of the past 20 years.

That is John McCrone summarizing Friston in a short piece.  And if you wish to read further, here is one famous paper by Friston.  I do not have an opinion of my own here, but am always happy to pass along (relatively) new ideas.  And here is Friston (with co-authors) applying his framework to autism.

Via Michelle Dawson.


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