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Active inference, sensory attenuation and illusions

Brown, H; Adams, RA; Parees, I; Edwards, M; Friston, K; (2013) Active inference, sensory attenuation and illusions. Cognitive Processing 10.1007/s10339-013-0571-3. Green open access

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Abstract

Active inference provides a simple and neurobiologically plausible account of how action and perception are coupled in producing (Bayes) optimal behaviour. This can be seen most easily as minimising prediction error: we can either change our predictions to explain sensory input through perception. Alternatively, we can actively change sensory input to fulfil our predictions. In active inference, this action is mediated by classical reflex arcs that minimise proprioceptive prediction error created by descending proprioceptive predictions. However, this creates a conflict between action and perception; in that, self-generated movements require predictions to override the sensory evidence that one is not actually moving. However, ignoring sensory evidence means that externally generated sensations will not be perceived. Conversely, attending to (proprioceptive and somatosensory) sensations enables the detection of externally generated events but precludes generation of actions. This conflict can be resolved by attenuating the precision of sensory evidence during movement or, equivalently, attending away from the consequences of self-made acts. We propose that this Bayes optimal withdrawal of precise sensory evidence during movement is the cause of psychophysical sensory attenuation. Furthermore, it explains the force-matching illusion and reproduces empirical results almost exactly. Finally, if attenuation is removed, the force-matching illusion disappears and false (delusional) inferences about agency emerge. This is important, given the negative correlation between sensory attenuation and delusional beliefs in normal subjects-and the reduction in the magnitude of the illusion in schizophrenia. Active inference therefore links the neuromodulatory optimisation of precision to sensory attenuation and illusory phenomena during the attribution of agency in normal subjects. It also provides a functional account of deficits in syndromes characterised by false inference and impaired movement-like schizophrenia and Parkinsonism-syndromes that implicate abnormal modulatory neurotransmission.

Type: Article
Title: Active inference, sensory attenuation and illusions
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s10339-013-0571-3
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10339-013-0571-3
Language: English
Additional information: ©The Author(s) 2013. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com. This article is made available under the liberal Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. The CC BY license permits commercial and non-commercial re-use of an open access article, as long as the original author and source are properly attributed.
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
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1396467
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