The proactive brain and the fate of dead hypotheses

Front Comput Neurosci. 2014 Nov 4;8:138. doi: 10.3389/fncom.2014.00138. eCollection 2014.


A substantial portion of information flow in the brain is directed top-down, from high processing areas downwards. Signals of this sort are regarded as conveying prior expectations, biasing the processing and eventual perception of incoming stimuli. In this perspective we describe a framework of top-down processing in the visual system in which predictions on the identity of objects in sight aid in their recognition. Focus is placed, in particular, on a relatively uncharted ramification of this framework, that of the fate of initial predictions that are eventually rejected during the process of selection. We propose that such predictions are rapidly inhibited in the brain after a competing option has been selected. Empirical support, along with behavioral, neuronal and computational aspects of this proposal are discussed, and future directions for related research are offered.

Keywords: ambiguity resolution; competition suppression; negative priming; object recognition; predictions; top-down; visual processing.