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Monday, July 15, 2019

Expectation Influences Perception

Known for some time.   Now how do we best  make use of this in AI interactions?   Can our brains be primed with signals to make them ready for interaction?  Can we measure what is needed using Bayesian methods?

How expectation influences perception

Neuroscientists find brain activity patterns that encode our beliefs and affect how we interpret the world around us.

MIT neuroscientists have identified patterns of brain activity that underlie our ability to interpret sensory input based on our expectations and past experiences.

By Anne Trafton | MIT News Office 

For decades, research has shown that our perception of the world is influenced by our expectations. These expectations, also called “prior beliefs,” help us make sense of what we are perceiving in the present, based on similar past experiences. Consider, for instance, how a shadow on a patient’s X-ray image, easily missed by a less experienced intern, jumps out at a seasoned physician. The physician’s prior experience helps her arrive at the most probable interpretation of a weak signal.

The process of combining prior knowledge with uncertain evidence is known as Bayesian integration and is believed to widely impact our perceptions, thoughts, and actions. Now, MIT neuroscientists have discovered distinctive brain signals that encode these prior beliefs. They have also found how the brain uses these signals to make judicious decisions in the face of uncertainty.

“How these beliefs come to influence brain activity and bias our perceptions was the question we wanted to answer,” says Mehrdad Jazayeri, the Robert A. Swanson Career Development Professor of Life Sciences, a member of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and the senior author of the study. .... "

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