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Brain Cogn. 2007 Nov;65(2):145-68.

Top-down predictions in the cognitive brain.

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Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 149 Thirteen Street, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


The human brain is not a passive organ simply waiting to be activated by external stimuli. Instead, we propose that the brain continuously employs memory of past experiences to interpret sensory information and predict the immediately relevant future. The basic elements of this proposal include analogical mapping, associative representations and the generation of predictions. This review concentrates on visual recognition as the model system for developing and testing ideas about the role and mechanisms of top-down predictions in the brain. We cover relevant behavioral, computational and neural aspects, explore links to emotion and action preparation, and consider clinical implications for schizophrenia and dyslexia. We then discuss the extension of the general principles of this proposal to other cognitive domains.

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