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The hierarchically mechanistic mind: an evolutionary systems theory of the human brain, cognition, and behavior

Badcock, PB; Friston, KJ; Ramstead, MJD; Ploeger, A; Hohwy, J; (2019) The hierarchically mechanistic mind: an evolutionary systems theory of the human brain, cognition, and behavior. Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience 10.3758/s13415-019-00721-3. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

The purpose of this review was to integrate leading paradigms in psychology and neuroscience with a theory of the embodied, situated human brain, called the Hierarchically Mechanistic Mind (HMM). The HMM describes the brain as a complex adaptive system that functions to minimize the entropy of our sensory and physical states via action-perception cycles generated by hierarchical neural dynamics. First, we review the extant literature on the hierarchical structure of the brain. Next, we derive the HMM from a broader evolutionary systems theory that explains neural structure and function in terms of dynamic interactions across four nested levels of biological causation (i.e., adaptation, phylogeny, ontogeny, and mechanism). We then describe how the HMM aligns with a global brain theory in neuroscience called the free-energy principle, leveraging this theory to mathematically formulate neural dynamics across hierarchical spatiotemporal scales. We conclude by exploring the implications of the HMM for psychological inquiry.

Type: Article
Title: The hierarchically mechanistic mind: an evolutionary systems theory of the human brain, cognition, and behavior
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3758/s13415-019-00721-3
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3758/s13415-019-00721-3
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: Active inference, Adaptive prior, Developmental psychology, Evolutionary Systems Theory, Evolutionary psychology, Free-Energy Principle, Hierarchically Mechanistic Mind
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10075068
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