Meeting in the Dark Room: Bayesian Rational Analysis and Hierarchical Predictive Coding

Sascha Benjamin Fink, Carlos Zednik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


At least two distinct modeling frameworks contribute to the view that mind and brain are Bayesian: Bayesian Rational Analysis (BRA) and Hierarchical Predictive Coding (HPC). What is the relative contribution of each, and how exactly do they relate? In order to answer this question, we compare the way in which these two modeling frameworks address different levels of analysis within Marr’s tripartite hierarchy for explanation in cognitive science. Whereas BRA answers questions at the computational level only, many HPC-theorists answer questions at the computational, algorithmic, and implementational levels simultaneously. Given that all three levels of analysis need to be addressed in order to explain a behavioral or cognitive phenomenon, HPC seems to deliver more complete explanations. Nevertheless, BRA is well-suited for providing a solution to the dark room problem, a major theoretical obstacle for HPC. A combination of the two approaches also combines the benefits of an embodied-externalistic approach to resolving the dark room problem with the idea of a persisting evidentiary border beyond which matters are out of cognitive reach. For this reason, the development of explanations spanning all three Marrian levels within the general Bayesian approach will require combining the BRA and HPC modeling frameworks.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhilosophy and Predictive Processing
PublisherOpen Mind Publishing Group
ISBN (Electronic)9783958573154
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Levels of analysis
  • Bayesian Rational Analyis
  • Hierarchical Predictive Coding
  • Embodiment

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