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The Relationship Between Perception \u0026 Mathematics (Karl Friston)

We use cookies to distinguish you from other users and to provide you with a better experience on our websites. Close this message to accept cookies or find out how to manage your cookie settings. Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 February The free energy principle FEP is a new paradigm that has gain widespread interest in the neuroscience community.

Although its principal architect, Karl Friston, is a psychiatrist, it has thus far had little impact within psychiatry. This article introduces readers to the FEP, points out its consilience with Freud's neuroscientific ideas and with psychodynamic practice, and suggests ways in which the FEP can help explain the mechanisms of action of the psychotherapies.

But ideology cannot be wholly avoided, nor theoretical controversy evaded. Current psychiatry's pantheon incudes evidence-based practice, DSM diagnosis and neuroscience. The search for evidence is theory driven. Diagnostic profusion raises questions about the medicalisation of human suffering.

Despite extraordinary recent advances in neuroscience, their impact on everyday psychiatric practice has been modest. The purpose of this article is twofold: first, to introduce readers to an overarching model of brain function associated with the mathematical psychiatrist Karl Friston, the free energy principle FEPwhich has been influential in neuroscience generally, but thus far has caused relatively little stir within Love in friston or clinical psychology.

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My hope is to redress that. Second, I make the case that FEP can revitalise the psychoanalytic psychotherapies, marginalised by the inexorable rise of cognitive—behavioural therapy CBT as the dominant psychological therapy paradigm.

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The evidence for its validity is circumstantial rather than direct, and its detailed neuronal mechanisms and clinical implications remain to be fully explored. Friston's project builds Love in friston the work of a of pioneering predecessors and their concepts. We live in an entropic universe. Broken cups don't spontaneously reassemble. Coffee cools once poured. Stars burn out. The exception is life itself. The key to negentropy is homeostasis.

Homeostasis, and the more general processes of allostasis, Reference Sterling and Schulkin 2 resist the forces of entropy, physiologically and behaviourally. Inherent in homeostasis are boundaries: cell membranes, the skin, the brain within its skull. Janus-like, homeostasis faces outwards towards the environment and inwards towards the Love in friston interieur.

Temperature sensors in the skin tell us it's a hot day; the sympathetic nervous system activates sweat glands, the brain tells us to fling off jumpers, move into the shade, etc. Friston had the insight and mathematical sophistication to see that the negentropic homeostatic principle applies not just to the organism as a whole but to the brain itself.

Reference Friston 3Reference Friston, Fortier and Friedman 4 The brain's job is to counteract entropy and to maintain internal stability on behalf of the organism whose processes and behaviour it controls and directs; this applies, reflexively, to itself. Reference Dayan, Hinton, Nesl and Zemel 5 Naively, we tend to think of vision as a camera-like image passively projected onto the visual cortex, or the auditory system as microphone-like, responding indiscriminatingly to the prevailing phonic universe. In the Helmholtz model the brain makes its own world. Our sense organs, external and internal, are constantly bombarded by a vast range of stimuli from an ever-changing environment.

White noise is chaotic, entropic and devoid of information. Language, whether spoken, sung or gestured, is structured, ordered, negentropic. The brain's aim is constantly to reduce informational entropy and maximise meaning. A crucial building block for the FEP is the concept of the Bayesian brain.

The Reverend Thomas Bayes, a late 18th-century clergyman and founder of probability theory, grasped, Doris Day-like, that the future's not ours to see. On the basis of prior experience, the Bayesian brain Reference Holmes and Nolte 7 continuously estimates the likelihood of future events.

Probabilities are computed by comparing current states of affairs with past occurrences, estimating the extent of correspondence between them, factoring in the likelihood of errors in both memory and perception, and ending with a portion that represents that which cannot be predicted. Now to the free energy principle itself. Energy un bound, or prediction error, reflects novelty in need of binding — and so forestall the dangers of entropic chaos. Circumstantial evidence for the FEP is the fact that more neuronal fibres reach the eye downwards from the brain than travel upward towards the visual cortex.

The FEP postulates a hierarchical series of neuronal interactions, starting from the least to the most complex, from the periphery to the central nervous system, from specificity to abstraction, most of which operate below conscious awareness. Each level can be thought of as a meaning—action boundary. Thus is order preserved, entropy eschewed.

I am therefore I think. KARL FRISTON

We know what we like and, mostly, see what we want and expect to see. But there will always be a discrepancy between our pre-existing models of the world and incoming sensations, an excess of energy that cannot be bound and will have to be passed onto the next level up of the hierarchy.

Reference Friston, Thornton and Clark 11 The environment is constantly in flux; we need to explore as much as conserve — to find new sources of food, suitable mates, interest and excitement. Surprise, calibrated by the brain as the discrepancy between expectation and incoming sensation, is a proxy for free energy — and hence entropy.

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Surprise is both vital to survival but also potentially entropic, disruptive or even life-threatening. This represents the prediction error aforementioned. At this point the role of affect becomes important. Free energy is aversive and can be thought of as representing mental pain.

The role of affect, positive and negative, is to drive the free energy minimising processes. The idea of active inference captures a of psychological processes central to psychological health. First, action or agency. Given that incoming stimuli are inherently subject to error and imprecision, the brain increases precision by movement — approaching an ambiguous stimulus source, turning the head to use foveal rather than peripheral vision, switching lights on in order to see better, etc.

Second, Love in friston model revision. The FEP has clear implications for those who work in mental ill health, and especially who favour psychological methods of treatment. Consider depression, typically triggered by loss, trauma or multiple setbacks. Adversity is widespread — poverty, inequality, racism — but not all succumb. Attachment research shows that those who are securely attached are able to repair the inevitable ruptures to which all are prone, often through the typical sequence of protest, rage, grief and mourning.

Reference Holmes and Slade 13 As children, securely attached people have had caregivers they could depend on to acknowledge their pain, tolerate protest and help them to move on. Repeated episodes of everyday rupture—repair cycles help build this resilience. For insecurely attached children, by contrast, rather than rupture—repair, cycles of rupture—despair or rupture—disappear are the norm.

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Both leave the child alone to find ways to bind the free energy the rupture evokes. When their caregiver's face freezes they look away, become miserable and regressed, and often resort to self-soothing rituals such as rocking or emotional dissociation. Such insecurely attached children are primed in later life for depression in response to loss or trauma or, in extreme cases, to developing post-traumatic stress disorder.

The ingredients of free energy minimisation needed to maintain psychological equilibrium are for them problematic. Active inference is compromised. They tend to be passive rather than active. The most commonly used therapy for depression, CBT, attempts to address these deficiencies. But CBT has its limitations. From an FEP perspective, one way to minimise free energy is to gravitate towards or engender environments that confirm one's view of the world, however negative. Depression relegates sufferers to emotionally impoverished relationships, stereotyped and simplistic top-down models, and thus becomes a self-fulfilling hypothesis, resistant to psychotherapeutic interventions.

Homeostatic imprecision needs to be tolerated for a while. Given that people with personality disorders notoriously find it difficult to trust others, the brevity and defocus on the therapeutic relationship in standard CBT limits the scope for such fundamental change.

Moving from depression to an FEP perspective on trauma, the latter creates an overwhelming influx of free energy for which there are no available top-down models with which to bind it. Reference Connolly 17 However, when tly considered — under a shared Markov blanket — these bottom-up unprocessed experiences can be bound with the therapist's encouragement and expertise into manageable narratives.

However painful, they become less overwhelming, a source of new ways of thinking and psychic reorganisation. We can see here Love in friston contemporary psychoanalytic psychotherapy and revitalised Freudian ideas resonate with the FEP. Freud started off his working life as a neurologist. Psychoanalysis was deed first to evoke and then to quieten this trauma-related unbound energy. To achieve this, three key psychoanalytic procedures are free association, dream analysis and analysis of transference. This enables the range of top-down responses to be enhanced and aversive free energy minimised.

At the top-down level, in a process comparable to the immune Love in friston lexicon of antigen-activated antibodies, dreaming is the means by which the mind generates a repertoire of narratives with which to bind the free energy which life's vicissitudes engender.

Transference analysis turns the spotlight on the limited varieties of top-down narratives that sufferers use in their dealings with intimate others to minimise free energy. Psychoanalysis has tended to self-isolation, sequestrated from cross-fertilisation by other disciplines.

The Friston—Freud consilience opens up new possibilities. Psychoanalytic and attachment-derived mentalisation-based therapy MBT is now established as a highly effective therapy for borderline personality disorder, ly considered untreatable. Reference Bateman and Fonagy 18 MBT le to big reductions in medication use, suicide attempts, hospital admission and unemployment among people with borderline personality disorder, as compared with treatment as usual.

It encourages patients a to identify the bottom-up feelings that fuel their self-injurious actions, b to pause and think of different ways of handling these, i. If rehabilitation of the psychoanalytic method in the light of the FEP comes as a pleasant surprise, this is consistent with its principles. As in Mark Twain's trope, rumours of psychoanalysis's death have been greatly exaggerated. In place of despair or disappearance, the FEP suggests that repair is possible. FEP-grounded psychoanalytic approaches such as MBT are now known to help those with profound mental distress.

They also suggest a scientifically sound of the interpersonal and neuronal mechanisms by which psychological change comes about. Jeremy Holmes is a retired psychiatrist and psychoanalytic psychotherapist. He is a Visiting Professor at Exeter University, UK, and author of many articles and books in the field of attachment theory and psychoanalysis, including The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own: Attachment, Neurobiology, and the New Science of Psychotherapyin which the ideas of this article are explored in greater detail.

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency, commercial or not-for-profit sectors. View all Google Scholar citations for this article. Alert. Log in. Hostname: -componentb6db54f-kbvt8 Total loading time: 0. BJPsych Bulletin. Article contents Summary Friston's forebears. Friston's Love in friston energy principle: new life for psychoanalysis?

Jeremy Holmes [Opens in a new window].

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