Skip to main content Accessibility help

Beginning with biology: “Aspects of cognition” exist in the service of the brain's overall function as a resource-regulator

  • Jordan E. Theriault (a1), Matt Coleman (a1), Mallory J. Feldman (a2), Joseph D. Fridman (a1), Eli Sennesh (a3), Lisa Feldman Barrett (a1) (a4) (a5) and Karen S. Quigley (a1) (a6)...


Lieder and Griffiths rightly urge that computational cognitive models be constrained by resource usage, but they should go further. The brain's primary function is to regulate resource usage. As a consequence, resource usage should not simply select among algorithmic models of “aspects of cognition.” Rather, “aspects of cognition” should be understood as existing in the service of resource management.



Hide All

These authors jointly supervised this work.



Hide All
Attwell, D. & Laughlin, S. B. (2001) An energy budget for signaling in the grey matter of the brain. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism 21(10):1133–45. Available at:
Barrett, L. F. (2017a) How emotions are made: The secret life of the brain. Pan Macmillan.
Barrett, L. F. (2017b) The theory of constructed emotion: An active inference account of interoception and categorization. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 12(1):123. Available at:
Barrett, L. F. & Finlay, B. L. (2018) Concepts, goals and the control of survival-related behaviors. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences 24:172–79. Available at:
Barrett, L. F., Quigley, K. S. & Hamilton, P. (2016) An active inference theory of allostasis and interoception in depression. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 371(1708):20160011. Available at:
Barrett, L. F. & Satpute, A. B. (2019) Historical pitfalls and new directions in the neuroscience of emotion. Neuroscience Letters 693:918. Available at:
Chanes, L. & Barrett, L. F. (2016) Redefining the role of limbic areas in cortical processing. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 20(2):96106. Available at:
Clark, A. (2013) Whatever next? Predictive brains, situated agents, and the future of cognitive science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36(3):124. Available at:
Clark, A. (2015) Surfing uncertainty: Prediction, action, and the embodied mind. Oxford University Press.
Clark-Polner, E., Wager, T. D., Satpute, A. B. & Barrett, L. F. (2016) Neural fingerprinting: Meta-analysis, variation and the search for brain-based essences in the science of emotion. In: The handbook of emotion, 4th edition, ed. Barrett, L. F., Lewis, M. & Haviland-Jones, J. M., pp. 146–65. Guilford Press.
Cook, M. & Mineka, S. (1989) Observational conditioning of fear to fear-relevant versus fear-irrelevant stimuli in rhesus monkeys. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 98(4):448–59. Available at:
Denève, S. & Jardri, R. (2016) Circular inference: Mistaken belief, misplaced trust. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences 11:4048. Available at:
Fanselow, M. S. (2018) Emotion, motivation and function. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences 19:105–09. Available at:
Fanselow, M. S. & Lester, L. S. (1988) A functional behavioristic approach to aversively motivated behavior: Predatory imminence as a determinant of the topography of defensive behavior. In: Evolution and learning, ed. Bolles, R. C. & Beecher, M. D., pp. 185212. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Friston, K. (2010) The free-energy principle: A unified brain theory? Nature Reviews Neuroscience 11(2):127–38. Available at:
Friston, K., FitzGerald, T., Rigoli, F., Schwartenbeck, P. & Pezzulo, G. (2017) Active inference: A process theory. Neural Computation 29(1):149. Available at:
Guillory, S. A. & Bujarski, K. A. (2014) Exploring emotions using invasive methods: Review of 60 years of human intracranial electrophysiology. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 9(12):1880–89. Available at:
Hutchinson, B. & Barrett, L. F. (2019) The power of predictions: An emerging paradigm for psychological research. Current Directions in Psychological Science 28(3):280–91. Available at:
Kleckner, I. R., Zhang, J., Touroutoglou, A., Chanes, L., Xia, C., Simmons, W. K., Quigley, K. S., Dickerson, B. C. & Barrett, L. F. (2017) Evidence for a large-scale brain system supporting allostasis and interoception in humans. Nature Human Behaviour 1(5):0069. Available at:
Mineka, S., Davidson, M., Cook, M. & Keir, R. (1984) Observational conditioning of snake fear in rhesus monkeys. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 93(4):355–72. Available at:
Niven, J. E. & Laughlin, S. B. (2008) Energy limitation as a selective pressure on the evolution of sensory systems. Journal of Experimental Biology 211(11):1792–804. Available at:
Pontzer, H. (2015) Energy expenditure in humans and other primates: A new synthesis. Annual Review of Anthropology 44(1):169–87. Available at:
Rao, R. P. N. & Ballard, D. H. (1999) Predictive coding in the visual cortex: A functional interpretation of some extra-classical receptive-field effects. Nature Neuroscience 2(1):7987. Available at:
Sengupta, B., Stemmler, M. B. & Friston, K. J. (2013) Information and efficiency in the nervous system − a synthesis. PLoS Computational Biology 9(7):e1003157. Available at:
Seth, A. K. (2015) The cybernetic Bayesian brain: From interoceptive inference to sensorimotor contingencies. In: Open mind, ed. Metzinger, T. & Windt, J. M., pp. 124. MIND Group. Available at:
Shadmehr, R., Smith, M. A. & Krakauer, J. W. (2010) Error correction, sensory prediction, and adaptation in motor control. Annual Review of Neuroscience 33(1):89108. Available at:
Shannon, C. & Weaver, W. (1949/1964) The mathematical theory of communication, 10th edition. The University of Illinois Press.
Sterling, P. (2004) Principles of allostasis: Optimal design, predictive regulation, pathophysiology, and rational therapeutics. In: Allostasis, homeostasis, and the costs of physiological adaptation, ed. Schulkin, J., pp. 1764. Cambridge University Press. Available at:
Sterling, P. (2012) Allostasis: A model of predictive regulation. Physiology & Behavior 106(1):515. Available at:
Sterling, P. & Eyer, J. (1988) Allostasis: A new paradigm to explain arousal pathology. In: Handbook of life stress, cognition and health, ed. S., Fisher & J., Reason, pp. 629–49. John Wiley & Sons.
Sterling, P. & Laughlin, S. (2015) Principles of neural design. MIT Press.
Theriault, J. E., Young, L. L. & Barrett, L. F. (2019) The sense of should: A biologically-based model of social pressure. PsyArXiv. Preprint 10.31234/ Available at:
Weibel, E. R. (2000) Symmorphosis: On form and function in shaping life. Harvard University Press.
Westermann, G., Mareschal, D., Johnson, M. H., Sirois, S., Spratling, M. W. & Thomas, M. S. C. (2007) Neuroconstructivism. Developmental Science 10(1):7583. Available at:
Zénon, A., Solopchuk, O. & Pezzulo, G. (2019) An information-theoretic perspective on the costs of cognition. Neuropsychologia 123(4):518. Available at:

Beginning with biology: “Aspects of cognition” exist in the service of the brain's overall function as a resource-regulator

  • Jordan E. Theriault (a1), Matt Coleman (a1), Mallory J. Feldman (a2), Joseph D. Fridman (a1), Eli Sennesh (a3), Lisa Feldman Barrett (a1) (a4) (a5) and Karen S. Quigley (a1) (a6)...


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed