Beyond the reward principle: Consciousness as precision seeking

Aikaterini Fotopoulou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


I use an influential computational theory of brain function - the free-energy principle - to suggest three points of added complexity to Mark Solms's intriguing descriptions of the embodied mind: (1) The link between ego and cognitive automaticity is not as straightforward as Solms suggests; instead, cognition strives for both inference and flexibility in relation to the changing world and the inflexible drives. (2) Affective consciousness may primarily map the degree of uncertainty (not pleasure) of internal bodily signals; subcortical areas are the neurobiological source of this facet of consciousness that in itself is likely to be localized among many, distributed brain areas. (3) Our innate motivational systems - the id - ultimately serve the same optimization principle as the ego; however, unlike the latter, they call for automaticity in behavior, on the basis of innate unconscious priors that are fulfilled by instinctual "e-motions" and other reflexes, understood as evolutionarily defined, primitive forms of active and perceptual inference.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-38
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013


  • consciousness
  • embodiment
  • emotion
  • free energy
  • motivation
  • predictive coding


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