Bibliographical data for

Title of Edited Collection


Publication Date

January 2015

Publication Place

Frankfurt am Main, Germany




Is there a single principle by which neural operations can account for perception, cognition, action, and even consciousness? A strong candidate is now taking shape in the form of “predictive processing”. On this theory, brains engage in predictive inference on the causes of sensory inputs by continuous minimization of prediction errors or informational “free energy”. Predictive processing can account, supposedly, not only for perception, but also for action and for the essential contribution of the body and environment in structuring sensorimotor interactions. In this paper I draw together some recent developments within predictive processing that involve predictive modelling of internal physiological states ( interoceptive inference ), and integration with “enactive” and “embodied” approaches to cognitive science ( predictive perception of sensorimotor contingencies ). The upshot is a development of predictive processing that originates, not in Helmholtzian perception-as-inference, but rather in 20 th -century cybernetic principles that emphasized homeostasis and predictive control. This way of thinking leads to (i) a new view of emotion as active interoceptive inference; (ii) a common predictive framework linking experiences of body ownership, emotion, and exteroceptive perception; (iii) distinct interpretations of active inference as involving disruptive and disambiguatory —not just confirmatory —actions to test perceptual hypotheses; (iv) a neurocognitive operationalization of the “mastery of sensorimotor contingencies” (where sensorimotor contingencies reflect the rules governing sensory changes produced by various actions); and (v) an account of the sense of subjective reality of perceptual contents (“perceptual presence”) in terms of the extent to which predictive models encode potential sensorimotor relations (this being “counterfactual richness”). This is rich and varied territory, and surveying its landmarks emphasizes the need for experimental tests of its key contributions.