Cellular Mechanisms of Cooperative Context-Sensitive Predictive Inference

Current Research in Neurobiology 6 (2024)
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We argue that prediction success maximization is a basic objective of cognition and cortex, that it is compatible with but distinct from prediction error minimization, that neither objective requires subtractive coding, that there is clear neurobiological evidence for the amplification of predicted signals, and that we are unconvinced by evidence proposed in support of subtractive coding. We outline recent discoveries showing that pyramidal cells on which our cognitive capabilities depend usually transmit information about input to their basal dendrites and amplify that transmission when input to their distal apical dendrites provides a context that agrees with the feedforward basal input in that both are depolarizing, i.e., both are excitatory rather than inhibitory. Though these intracellular discoveries require a level of technical expertise that is beyond the current abilities of most neuroscience labs, they are not controversial and acclaimed as groundbreaking. We note that this cellular cooperative context-sensitivity greatly enhances the cognitive capabilities of the mammalian neocortex, and that much remains to be discovered concerning its evolution, development, and pathology.

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Tomas Marvan
Czech Academy of Sciences


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