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Cognitive effort and active inference

Parr, T; Holmes, E; Friston, KJ; Pezzulo, G; (2023) Cognitive effort and active inference. Neuropsychologia , 184 , Article 108562. 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2023.108562. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper aims to integrate some key constructs in the cognitive neuroscience of cognitive control and executive function by formalising the notion of cognitive (or mental) effort in terms of active inference. To do so, we call upon a task used in neuropsychology to assess impulse inhibition—a Stroop task. In this task, participants must suppress the impulse to read a colour word and instead report the colour of the text of the word. The Stroop task is characteristically effortful, and we unpack a theory of mental effort in which, to perform this task accurately, participants must overcome prior beliefs about how they would normally act. However, our interest here is not in overt action, but in covert (mental) action. Mental actions change our beliefs but have no (direct) effect on the outside world—much like deploying covert attention. This account of effort as mental action lets us generate multimodal (choice, reaction time, and electrophysiological) data of the sort we might expect from a human participant engaging in this task. We analyse how parameters determining cognitive effort influence simulated responses and demonstrate that—when provided only with performance data—these parameters can be recovered, provided they are within a certain range.

Type: Article
Title: Cognitive effort and active inference
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2023.108562
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2023.10...
Language: English
Additional information: © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. under a Creative Commons license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Active inference, Cognitive effort, Covert attention, Mental effort, Stroop effect, Variational
UCL classification: UCL
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 > Div of Psychology and Lang 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 > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences
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/10169198
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