Getting ahead: Forward models and their place in cognitive architecture

Martin J. Pickering*, Andy Clark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Citations (Scopus)


The use of forward models (mechanisms that predict the future state of a system) is well established in cognitive and computational neuroscience. We compare and contrast two recent, but interestingly divergent, accounts of the place of forward models in the human cognitive architecture. On the Auxiliary Forward Model (AFM) account, forward models are special-purpose prediction mechanisms implemented by additional circuitry distinct from core mechanisms of perception and action. On the Integral Forward Model (IFM) account, forward models lie at the heart of all forms of perception and action. We compare these neighbouring but importantly different visions and consider their implications for the cognitive sciences. We end by asking what kinds of empirical research might offer evidence favouring one or the other of these approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-456
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Active inference
  • Forward model
  • Joint action
  • Language
  • Prediction
  • Predictive coding
  • Simulation


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