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      Beyond Autism: Introducing the Dialectical Misattunement Hypothesis and a Bayesian Account of Intersubjectivity

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      Psychopathology

      S. Karger AG

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          Abstract

          Drawing on sociocultural theories and Bayesian accounts of brain function, in this article we construe psychiatric conditions as disorders of social interaction to fully account for their complexity and dynamicity across levels of description and temporal scales. After an introduction of the theoretical underpinnings of our integrative approach, we take autism spectrum conditions (ASC) as a paradigm example and discuss how neurocognitive hypotheses can be translated into a Bayesian formulation, i.e., in terms of predictive processing and active inference. We then argue that consideration of individuals (even within a Bayesian framework) will not be enough for a comprehensive understanding of psychiatric conditions and consequently put forward the dialectical misattunement hypothesis, which views psychopathology not merely as disordered function within single brains but also as a dynamic interpersonal mismatch that encompasses various levels of description. Moving from a mere comparison of groups, i.e., "healthy" persons versus "patients," to a fine-grained analysis of social interactions within dyads and groups of individuals will open new avenues and may allow to avoid an overly neurocentric scope in psychiatric research as well as help to reduce social exclusion.

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          Most cited references 52

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          The free-energy principle: a rough guide to the brain?

           Karl Friston (2009)
          This article reviews a free-energy formulation that advances Helmholtz's agenda to find principles of brain function based on conservation laws and neuronal energy. It rests on advances in statistical physics, theoretical biology and machine learning to explain a remarkable range of facts about brain structure and function. We could have just scratched the surface of what this formulation offers; for example, it is becoming clear that the Bayesian brain is just one facet of the free-energy principle and that perception is an inevitable consequence of active exchange with the environment. Furthermore, one can see easily how constructs like memory, attention, value, reinforcement and salience might disclose their simple relationships within this framework.
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            Predictive coding: an account of the mirror neuron system.

            Is it possible to understand the intentions of other people by simply observing their actions? Many believe that this ability is made possible by the brain's mirror neuron system through its direct link between action and observation. However, precisely how intentions can be inferred through action observation has provoked much debate. Here we suggest that the function of the mirror system can be understood within a predictive coding framework that appeals to the statistical approach known as empirical Bayes. Within this scheme the most likely cause of an observed action can be inferred by minimizing the prediction error at all levels of the cortical hierarchy that are engaged during action observation. This account identifies a precise role for the mirror system in our ability to infer intentions from actions and provides the outline of the underlying computational mechanisms.
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              Is the rostro-caudal axis of the frontal lobe hierarchical?

              The frontal lobes in the brain are a component of the cerebral system that supports goal-directed behaviour. However, their functional organization remains controversial. Recent studies have reported rostro-caudal distinctions in frontal cortex activity based on the abstractness of action representations. In addition, some have proposed that these differences reflect a hierarchical organization, whereby anterior frontal regions influence processing by posterior frontal regions during the realization of abstract action goals as motor acts. However, few have considered whether the anatomy and physiology of the frontal lobes support such a scheme. To address this gap, this Review surveys anatomical, neuroimaging, electrophysiological and developmental findings, and considers the question: could the organization of the frontal cortex be hierarchical?
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Psychopathology
                Psychopathology
                S. Karger AG
                0254-4962
                1423-033X
                January 12 2018
                2017
                December 13 2017
                : 50
                : 6
                : 355-372
                Article
                10.1159/000484353
                29232684
                © 2017

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