23 November 2015

Surfing uncertainty

Visual information goes to the visual cortex, so there are a huge number of connections going from the thalamus into the visual cortex. But here’s the surprise: there are ten times as many going in the opposite direction.
David Eagleman
A skilled surfer stays ‘in the pocket’; close to, yet just ahead of the place where the wave is breaking. This provides power and, when the waves breaks, it does not catch her. The brain’s task is not dissimilar. By constantly attempting to predict the incoming sensory signal we become able…to learn about the world around us and to engage that world in thought and action. Successful, world-engaging prediction is not easy. It depends crucially upon simultaneously estimating the state of the word and our own sensory uncertainty. But get that right, and active agents can both know and behaviourally engage their worlds, safely riding wave upon wave of sensory stimulation.
Andy Clark

Image: moillusions.com

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