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Thursday Morning Talk with Jakub Limanowski (TU Dresden): Precision control as a mechanism for shaping body models
When controlling action — e.g., hand movements — the brain typically relies on seen and felt posture information to represent ‘its’ body. It is thought that the brain combines these estimates into a multisensory (e.g. hand) representation in a probabilistic fashion, accounting for how reliable each estimate is in the given context. I will present behavioural, brain imaging, and computational modelling work—which jointly suggest that during action, the weights (i.e., the precision) assigned to visual vs proprioceptive information about body position can be changed in a top-down fashion by e.g. adoption of an ‘attentional set’. Such a contextualising function of ‘gain control’ is in line with predictive models of body representation, where the expected precision of sensory prediction errors is based on internal model beliefs. I will conclude that (to some degree) body representations can be deliberately shaped by this mechanism; and I will discuss what this implies for the near future — in which entertaining and switching between multiple body representations, e.g. in virtual realities, may be increasingly common.
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