To Be Energy-Efficient, Brains Predict Their Perceptions

Here’s an interesting article about how the brain utilizes predictive analytics to filter and categorize perceptions.

This was especially interesting:

Consequently, many neuroscientists are pivoting to a view of the brain as a “prediction machine.” Through predictive processing, the brain uses its prior knowledge of the world to make inferences or generate hypotheses about the causes of incoming sensory information. Those hypotheses — and not the sensory inputs themselves — give rise to perceptions in our mind’s eye. The more ambiguous the input, the greater the reliance on prior knowledge.

This reads like a scientific listing of several steps of DO.

Still a working tgeory, but very interested to see if it pans out.


The fact that things have already proliferated to any extent (in whatever direction) is the reason a “likelihood” is available when a similar direction is presented later. Certainly the brain is the reason the body has the capacity for this type of experience, but it is the ongoing development of these directions that establishes the arrangement of perceptions, i.e. welcoming those directions, delighting in them, etc.

The scope of proliferation extends as far as the scope of the six fields of contact. The scope of the six fields of contact extends as far as the scope of proliferation. - AN 4.174

Mendicant, a person is beset by concepts of identity that emerge from the proliferation of perceptions. If they don’t find anything worth approving, welcoming, or getting attached to in the source from which these arise, just this is the end of the underlying tendencies to desire, repulsion, views, doubt, conceit, the desire to be reborn, and ignorance. This is the end of taking up the rod and the sword, the end of quarrels, arguments, and disputes, of accusations, divisive speech, and lies. This is where these bad, unskillful qualities cease without anything left over.” - MN 18


I recently learned that Lisa Feldman Barrett (author of “How Emotions are Made”) is actually quite familiar with Buddhism. The parallels are sometimes more than a coincidence!


Samsara is a moving cycle a ‘machine’ and has momentum, and like any turning object draws things in. Its agenda is to maintain itself. Wise attention is required:

“This means that sensory experience is primarily active, rather than passive. The mind is not a blank slate. Even before contact is made at the senses, the factors of bodily, verbal, and mental fabrication have already gone out looking for that contact, shaping how it will be experienced and what the mind will be seeking from it. Because these fabrications, in an untrained mind, are influenced by ignorance, they lead to suffering and stress. This is why insight has to focus on investigating them, for only when they’re mastered as skills, through knowledge, to the point of dispassion can they be allowed to cease.”—Thanissaro