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Conscious Cogn. 2017 Jan;47:6-16. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2016.04.001. Epub 2016 Apr 22.

The relationship between cognitive penetration and predictive coding.

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Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience, Department of Philosophy, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Scotland, United Kingdom. Electronic address:


If beliefs and desires affect perception-at least in certain specified ways-then cognitive penetration occurs. Whether it occurs is a matter of controversy. Recently, some proponents of the predictive coding account of perception have claimed that the account entails that cognitive penetrations occurs. I argue that the relationship between the predictive coding account and cognitive penetration is dependent on both the specific form of the predictive coding account and the specific form of cognitive penetration. In so doing, I spell out different forms of each and the relationship that holds between them. Thus, mere acceptance of the predictive coding approach to perception does not determine whether one should think that cognitive penetration exists. Moreover, given that there are such different conceptions of both predictive coding and cognitive penetration, researchers should cease talking of either without making clear which form they refer to, if they aspire to make true generalisations.


Cognition; Cognitive penetration; Early vision; Perception; Perceptual experience; Predictive coding

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