ISBN: 9780262369978 | 313 pp. | March 2022

Active Inference

The Free Energy Principle in Mind, Brain, and Behavior

Active inference is a way of understanding sentient behavior—a theory that characterizes perception, planning, and action in terms of probabilistic inference. Developed by theoretical neuroscientist Karl Friston over years of groundbreaking research, active inference provides an integrated perspective on brain, cognition, and behavior that is increasingly used across multiple disciplines including neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy. Active inference puts the action into perception. This book offers the first comprehensive treatment of active inference, covering theory, applications, and cognitive domains.

Active inference is a “first principles” approach to understanding behavior and the brain, framed in terms of a single imperative to minimize free energy. The book emphasizes the implications of the free energy principle for understanding how the brain works. It first introduces active inference both conceptually and formally, contextualizing it within current theories of cognition. It then provides specific examples of computational models that use active inference to explain such cognitive phenomena as perception, attention, memory, and planning.



Table of Contents

  1. [ Front Matter ]
  2. Preface
  3. I
  4. 1. Overview
  5. 2. The Low Road to Active Inference
  6. 3. The High Road to Active Inference
  7. 4. The Generative Models of Active Inference
  8. 5. Message Passing and Neurobiology
  9. II
  10. 6. A Recipe for Designing Active Inference Models
  11. 7. Active Inference in Discrete Time
  12. 8. Active Inference in Continuous Time
  13. 9. Model-Based Data Analysis
  14. 10. Active Inference as a Unified Theory of Sentient Behavior
  15. Appendix A: Mathematical Background
  16. Appendix B: The Equations of Active Inference
  17. Appendix C: An Annotated Example of the Matlab Code
  18. Notes
  19. References
  20. Index