From Objects to Unified Minds

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10 Scopus citations


The involvement of top-down processes in perception and cognition is widely acknowledged by now. In fields of research from predictions to inhibition, and from attentional guidance to affect, a great deal has already been charted. Integrating this newer understanding with accumulated findings from the past has made it clear that human experience is determined by a combination of both bottom-up and top-down processes. It has been proposed that the ongoing balance between their relative contribution affects a person’s entire state of mind, an overarching framework that encompasses the breadth of mental activity. According to this proposal, state of mind, in which multiple facets of mind are clumped together functionally and dynamically, orients us to the optimal state for the given circumstances. These ideas are examined here by connecting a broad array of domains in which the balance between top-down and bottom-up processes is apparent. These domains range from object recognition to contextual associations, from pattern of thought to tolerance for uncertainty, and from the default-mode network to mood. From this synthesis emerge numerous hypotheses, implications, and directions for future research in cognitive psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-137
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Directions in Psychological Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • bottom-up
  • context
  • creativity
  • default mode
  • exploitation
  • exploration
  • mood
  • predictions
  • recognition
  • simulations
  • state of mind
  • top-down


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