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Is the Mind Inherently Forward-Looking? Comparing Prediction and Retrodiction.


It has been suggested that prediction may be an organizing principle of the mind and/or the neocortex, with cognitive machinery specifically engineered to detect forward-looking temporal relationships, rather than merely associating temporally contiguous events. There is a remarkable absence of behavioral tests of this idea, however. To address this gap, subjects were shown sequences of shapes governed by stochastic Markov processes, and then asked to choose which shape reliably came after a probe shape (prediction test) or before it (retrodiction test). Prediction was never superior to retrodiction, even when subjects were forewarned of a forward-directional test.

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