Top-down predictions in the cognitive brain

Kestutis Kveraga, Avniel S. Ghuman, Moshe Bar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

276 Scopus citations


The human brain is not a passive organ simply waiting to be activated by external stimuli. Instead, we propose that the brain continuously employs memory of past experiences to interpret sensory information and predict the immediately relevant future. The basic elements of this proposal include analogical mapping, associative representations and the generation of predictions. This review concentrates on visual recognition as the model system for developing and testing ideas about the role and mechanisms of top-down predictions in the brain. We cover relevant behavioral, computational and neural aspects, explore links to emotion and action preparation, and consider clinical implications for schizophrenia and dyslexia. We then discuss the extension of the general principles of this proposal to other cognitive domains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-168
Number of pages24
JournalBrain and Cognition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Jasmine Boshyan for assistance with manuscript preparation. Supported by NINDS R01-NS044319 and NS050615, the James S. McDonnell Foundation #21002039, an award for Dart Neuroscience LP, and the MGH Fund for Medical Discovery.


  • Computational methods
  • Contextual facilitation
  • Magnetoencephalography
  • Magnocellular
  • Neuroimaging
  • Object recognition
  • Orbitofrontal cortex
  • Parvocellular
  • Priming
  • Synchrony
  • Vision
  • Visual pathways


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