A theory that integrates motivation and control

Giovanni Pezzulo, Francesco Rigoli, Karl J. Friston, Hierarchical Active Inference: A Theory of Motivated Control, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 22, Issue 4, 2018, Pages 294-306, DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2018.01.009.

Motivated control refers to the coordination of behaviour to achieve affectively valenced outcomes or goals. The study of motivated control traditionally assumes a distinction between control and motivational processes, which map to distinct (dorsolateral versus ventromedial) brain systems. However, the respective roles and interactions between these processes remain controversial. We offer a novel perspective that casts control and motivational processes as complementary aspects − goal propagation and prioritization, respectively − of active inference and hierarchical goal processing under deep generative models. We propose that the control hierarchy propagates prior preferences or goals, but their precision is informed by the motivational context, inferred at different levels of the motivational hierarchy. The ensuing integration of control and motivational processes underwrites action and policy selection and, ultimately, motivated behaviour, by enabling deep inference to prioritize goals in a context-sensitive way.

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