'Mind the body'

UG07 Learning Centre
Life and Environmental Sciences, Research
Wednesday 18th February 2015 (13:00-14:00)
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Part of the School Seminar Series

Speaker: Anil Seth, University of Sussex

Host: Uta Noppeney

The brain is not just a machine to think with, and the body is not just a machine to move with. We are “beast machines” with our intelligence, and our conscious experiences, deeply rooted in our specific physiology. In particular, the experience of embodied selfhood rests critically on how the brain perceives its body, both from the outside (exteroception), and from the inside (interoception). In this talk I will develop a view of embodied selfhood through the lens of ‘predictive processing’, by which perception is construed as a process of (active) inference on the causes of sensory signals. I will introduce a model of interoceptive inference which says that subjective feeling states (emotions) arise from actively inferred predictive models of the causes of interoceptive signals. The model also predicts that embodied selfhood is grounded in active inference of those signals “most likely to be me” across interoceptive and exteroceptive domains. I will present some recent evidence illustrating this view, including a novel version of the ‘rubber hand illusion’ incorporating visual feedback of heartbeat signals via augmented reality. These ideas and findings guard against naïve computational theories of mind, brain, and consciousness, which push the body into the background. At the same time they also bring new relevance to some old ideas in AI that are typically associated with cybernetics and predictive control.