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Karl Friston

Institute of Neurology

Predictive coding and attention

The question behind Prof. Friston’s programme is “how does the brain work?” More specifically, how can one understand brain anatomy and physiology in terms of its function? This question is addressed by assuming cortical circuits have evolved to enable inference about the causes of sensory input received by the brain. This provides a principled specification of what neural circuits have to achieve. We try to address how the brain makes inferences by casting inference as an optimization problem and looking at how the ensuing recognition dynamics could be supported by directed connections and message-passing among neuronal populations.


The available projects focus on the role of precision in mediating attentional modulation using hierarchical models of the world. These projects would provide exposure to computational neuroscience, theoretical neurobiology and the biomathematics of dynamical systems (and require a degree of mathematical competence).


Friston K, Kiebel S.
Cortical circuits for perceptual inference.
Neural Netw. 2009 Jul 19

Friston K.
The free-energy principle: a rough guide to the brain?
Trends Cogn Sci. 2009 Jun 24

Friston K.
Hierarchical Models in the Brain
PLoS Comput Biol (2008) 4(11): e1000211

Friston K, Kilner J, Harrison L.
A free energy principle for the brain.
J Physiol Paris. 2006 Jul-Sep;100(1-3):70-87

Friston K.
A theory of cortical responses.
Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2005 Apr 29;360(1456):815-36


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