Past Event

Prediction: How Forecasting and Prospection Shape Thought - Seminars in Society and Neuroscience

April 18, 2016
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
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Buell Hall, Columbia University, 515 West 116th Street, New York
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The event recording is available via YouTube. 


  • David Danks, Professor of Philosophy and Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Karl Friston, Wellcome Principal Research Fellow and Scientific Director, Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging; Professor of Neurology, University College London
  • Carol Krumhansl, Professor of Psychology, Cornell University

Moderator: Christopher Peacocke, Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy, Columbia University

Prediction plays a fundamental role in cognition. Accurate prediction allows humans and other animals to act in ways that anticipate future states of the environment, potentially reducing the threat posed by dangers and increasing the benefits of positive events. Prediction also permits cognitive systems to forecast what will happen beyond the next instant, or forecast what would happen were the world different. Cognitive systems can plan, strategize, and learn by using prediction and forecasting to adapt to a changing environment.

The theory of predictive coding suggests that higher cortical areas integrate environmental information from perception and sensation and contextual information from memory to generate hypotheses about the state of the world. Subsequent sensory feedback is integrated into this information to help detect differences between the original hypothesis and the actual state. These differences, called prediction errors, can be utilized to update hypotheses, generating new predictions about how the environment is changing. In the past two decades, theory and research has made central the importance of predictive coding in the computational foundations of both human perception and cognition and machine learning. In this seminar, the merits and pitfalls of this approach to understanding the brain and cognition will be explored.

This event is free and open to the public. Reception to follow.

This event is part of the Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience, Seminars in Society and Neuroscience series.