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Virtual reality and consciousness inference in dreaming.

Hobson, JA; Hong, CC; Friston, KJ; (2014) Virtual reality and consciousness inference in dreaming. Front Psychol , 5 , Article 1133. 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01133. Green open access

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Abstract

This article explores the notion that the brain is genetically endowed with an innate virtual reality generator that - through experience-dependent plasticity - becomes a generative or predictive model of the world. This model, which is most clearly revealed in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep dreaming, may provide the theater for conscious experience. Functional neuroimaging evidence for brain activations that are time-locked to rapid eye movements (REMs) endorses the view that waking consciousness emerges from REM sleep - and dreaming lays the foundations for waking perception. In this view, the brain is equipped with a virtual model of the world that generates predictions of its sensations. This model is continually updated and entrained by sensory prediction errors in wakefulness to ensure veridical perception, but not in dreaming. In contrast, dreaming plays an essential role in maintaining and enhancing the capacity to model the world by minimizing model complexity and thereby maximizing both statistical and thermodynamic efficiency. This perspective suggests that consciousness corresponds to the embodied process of inference, realized through the generation of virtual realities (in both sleep and wakefulness). In short, our premise or hypothesis is that the waking brain engages with the world to predict the causes of sensations, while in sleep the brain's generative model is actively refined so that it generates more efficient predictions during waking. We review the evidence in support of this hypothesis - evidence that grounds consciousness in biophysical computations whose neuronal and neurochemical infrastructure has been disclosed by sleep research.

Type: Article
Title: Virtual reality and consciousness inference in dreaming.
Location: Switzerland
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01133
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01133
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2014 Hobson, Hong and Friston. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Keywords: consciousness, free energy, neuromodulation, pontine-geniculate-occipital waves, prediction, rapid eye movements, sleep, virtual reality
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/1456479
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