Perception

  • Perception is a marriage of our expectations and our sensations. (via Anil Seth)
  • Normal perception is a fantasy that is constrained by reality.

Predictive coding (or predictive processing)

  • Our minds feed-forward a prediction about what we are perceiving and reconcile that with sensory input/feedback from the environment to form perception.
  • Top-down prediction signals and bottom-up sensory signals in the cortex are transmitted at different frequencies.
  • My Speculation: Top-down predictions come from areas closer to the surface of the cerebral cortex, perhaps because they are the result of signals received from outside the head.
  • Confirmed expectations speed up perception of new sensory inputs.

Perceptual presence

  • In normal perception objects really seem to be there as opposed to being images of objects.
  • Bayesian brain makes predictions in spacetime to help us understand the sensory data we take in.

Perception as hypothesis testing

  • "Each movement we make by which we alter the appearance of objects should be thought of as an experiment designed to test whether we have understood correctly the invariant relations of the phenomena before us." - Hermann von Heimholtz, The Facts of Perception (1878)
  • see also Richard Gregory

Computational theory of consciousness

Donald D. Hoffman claims to have proven that consciousness cannot be identified with any functional properties of any computational system, disproving the reductive functionalist approach that would say "the mind is what the brain does".

What we perceive is akin to an interface symbolizing objective reality. We do not directly perceive the truth. Not a solipsist. Experiences are real. Conscious agents have the experiences, then make choices, which influence the world, leading to new experiences. We live in a universe of consciousness, of conscious agents in an infinite lattice. Hoffman and Prakash have proposed a formal model of consciousness based on a mathematical structure called conscious agents, from which spacetime emerges.

A diagram of Hoffman's conscious agent as a six-tuple

Hoffman concludes that "[t]he physical properties of time and space emerge as a convenient interface for representing the dynamics of conscious agents." Perhaps, he posits, subjective time arises due to the finite nature of the observer, the conscious agent. With infinite faculties, there would be no purpose to time. All would be seen and known. With finite faculties, and a limited perspective, it is helpful and indeed necessary to sequence observations in the quest to explain them.

In other words, we invented time to help us make sense of the world from our constrained perspective. The rules make the game challenging, limitations give meaning to creativity, make design possible. If we could see the whole picture, we couldn't enjoy it. But examining the vibrating wonder of existence through a narrow band of frequencies makes it much more interesting.

Perception