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Contextual perception under active inference

Mirza, M. Berk, Cullen, Maell, Parr, Thomas, Shergill, Sukhi S., Moran, Rosalyn (2021) Contextual perception under active inference. Scientific Reports, 11 . Article Number 16223. ISSN 2045-2322. (doi:10.1038/s41598-021-95510-9) (KAR id:96369)


Human social interactions depend on the ability to resolve uncertainty about the mental states of others. The context in which social interactions take place is crucial for mental state attribution as sensory inputs may be perceived differently depending on the context. In this paper, we introduce a mental state attribution task where a target-face with either an ambiguous or an unambiguous emotion is embedded in different social contexts. The social context is determined by the emotions conveyed by other faces in the scene. This task involves mental state attribution to a target-face (either happy or sad) depending on the social context. Using active inference models, we provide a proof of concept that an agent’s perception of sensory stimuli may be altered by social context. We show with simulations that context congruency and facial expression coherency improve behavioural performance in terms of decision times. Furthermore, we show through simulations that the abnormal viewing strategies employed by patients with schizophrenia may be due to i) an imbalance between the precisions of local and global features in the scene and ii) a failure to modulate the sensory precision to contextualise emotions.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1038/s41598-021-95510-9
Subjects: R Medicine
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Kent and Medway Medical School
Funders: National Institute for Health Research (
South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (
King's College London (
Depositing User: Rachael Heller
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2022 08:45 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 18:07 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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