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Publication Summary and Abstract

Fox, C. and Stafford, T (2012), Maximum utility unitary coherent perception vs. the Bayesian brain, Proc. Cognitive Science.

Our subjective experience of the world is ‘unitary coherent’ (UC). ‘Unitary’ means we only perceive one interpretation at a time rather than a blur of multiple possible worlds. ‘Coherent’ means that we almost always perceive scenes that do not contain contradictory parts. While this form of first-person perceptual experience may seem obvious, it is in opposition to the requirements of optimal decision making, and to some forms of the ‘Bayesian brain’ hypothesis. We hypothesise that there are at least three types of ‘Bayesian’ action selection occurring in cognition, including a ‘maximum utility (MU) percept’ strategy that makes use of UC percepts. We give evidence from a video game experiment that is compatible with MU/UC perception and action selection, and is incompatible with optimal actions. Furthermore, it is compatible with the presence of utility bias in MU/UC perception: by changing the available actions we may be able to manipulate the subject’s percept of a fixed ambiguous stimulus.
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