The first comprehensive treatment of active inference, an integrative perspective on brain, cognition, and behavior used across multiple disciplines.
Active inference is a way of understanding sentient behavior—a theory that characterizes perception, planning, and action in terms of probabilistic inference. Developed by theoretical neuroscientist Karl Friston over years of groundbreaking research, active inference provides an integrated perspective on brain, cognition, and behavior that is increasingly used across multiple disciplines including neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy. Active inference puts the action into perception. This book offers the first comprehensive treatment of active inference, covering theory, applications, and cognitive domains.
Active inference is a “first principles” approach to understanding behavior and the brain, framed in terms of a single imperative to minimize free energy. The book emphasizes the implications of the free energy principle for understanding how the brain works. It first introduces active inference both conceptually and formally, contextualizing it within current theories of cognition. It then provides specific examples of computational models that use active inference to explain such cognitive phenomena as perception, attention, memory, and planning.
Thomas Parr is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging at the Queen Square Institute of Neurology at University College London and a practicing clinician.
Giovanni Pezzulo is a Researcher at the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies of the National Research Council of Italy in Rome.
Karl J. Friston is Scientific Director of the Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging and Professor at Queen Square Institute of Neurology at University College London.
“It should have been impossible—a unified theory of life and mind, laid out in ten elegant chapters spanning the conceptual landscape, the formal schemas, and some of the neurobiology, then garnished with practical recipes for active model design. Philosophically astute and scientifically compelling, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in minds, brains, and action. Unmissable.”
Andy Clark, Professor of Cognitive Philosophy, University of Sussex; author of Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action, and the Embodied Mind
“A compelling account of a leading theory for how we engage with our world. From concept to practice, Parr, Pezzulo, and Friston take us on a markedly expansive journey in crisp accessible prose. A bravely unifying perspective of action in perception.”
Dani S. Bassett, J. Peter Skirkanich Professor, University of Pennsylvania; External Professor, the Santa Fe Institute
“Probably the most lucid and comprehensive treatment of the concept of active inference to date. Essential reading for all neuroscientists and cognitive scientists interested in prediction, or anyone with a pluralistic interest in information and behavior.”