Chris D Frith

Chris D Frith
University College London | UCL · Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience

PhD

About

897
Publications
343,388
Reads
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165,090
Citations
Additional affiliations
October 2011 - September 2013
All Souls College
Position
  • Meta-cognition
September 2007 - present
Aarhus University
Position
  • Interacting Minds
April 1994 - present
University College London
Position
  • Social Cognition
Education
September 1965 - September 1969
Institute of Psychiatry, London University
Field of study
  • experimental psychology
August 1963 - September 1964
Institute of Psychiatry, London University
Field of study
  • Clinical Psychology
October 1960 - May 1963
Christ's College
Field of study
  • Natural Sciences

Publications

Publications (897)
Article
To survive, all animals need to predict what other agents are going to do next. We review neural mechanisms involved in the steps required for this ability. The first step is to determine whether an object is an agent, and if so, how sophisticated it is. This involves brain regions carrying representations of animate agents. The movements of the ag...
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Scientific thinking about the minds of humans and other animals has been transformed by the idea that the brain is Bayesian. A cornerstone of this idea is that agents set the balance between prior knowledge and incoming evidence based on how reliable or ‘precise’ these different sources of information are — lending the most weight to that which is...
Preprint
Full-text available
In this Primer, Daniel Yon and Chris Frith explain ‘precision’ – a key concept in Bayesian models of the mind and brain. The idea of precision is central to current thinking across the cognitive sciences, but in recent years ideas about precision have begun to change. This raises important questions about precisely how precision works.
Article
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Perceptual decision-making employs a range of higher order metacognitive processes. Two of the most important of these are perceptual awareness; or the clarity with which one reports seeing a perceptual stimulus, and response confidence; or the certainty one has about the correctness of one's own perceptual categorizations. We used a novel false fe...
Chapter
This is a short history of mentalising research embedded in the framework of cognitive neuroscience. It is guided by our personal experience of research with neurotypical and autistic individuals, children and adults. We review our reasons for treating the mentalising system as a specialised system within the social brain and speculate on the role...
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When a glass is lifted from a tray, there is a challenge for the waiter. He must quickly compensate for the reduction in the weight of the tray in order to keep it balanced. This compensation is easily achieved if the waiter lifts the glass himself. Because he has, himself, initiated the action, he can predict the timing and the magnitude of the pe...
Preprint
Full-text available
To survive, all animals need to predict what other agents are going to do next. The first step is to detect that an object is an agent and, if so, how sophisticated it is. To this end, visual cues are especially important: the form of the agent and the nature of its movements. Once identified, the movements of an agent, however sophisticated, can b...
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Characteristic symptoms of schizophrenia such as thought broadcasting, verbal hallucinations and delusions of being controlled suggest a failure in distinguishing between oneself and others. In addition, patients frequently experience mentalizing deficits, which could be related to such a failure. Here we investigated the tendency to distinguish se...
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Schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental psychiatric disorder thought to result from synaptic dysfunction that affects distributed brain connectivity, rather than any particular brain region. While symptomatology is traditionally divided into positive and negative symptoms, abnormal social cognition is now recognized a key component of schizophrenia....
Article
Dezecache et al. argue that affiliation and contact-seeking are key responses to danger. These natural social tendencies are likely to hinder the observance of physical distancing during the current pandemic. We need internet access at this time, not only to promote freedom of expression, but also to promote public health.
Article
In recent years, the role of top-down expectations on perception has been extensively researched within the framework of predictive coding. However, less attention has been given to the different sources of expectations, how they differ, and how they interact. In this article, we examined the effects of informative hints on perceptual experience an...
Preprint
Full-text available
In recent years the role of top-down expectations on perception has been extensively researched within the framework of predictive coding. However, less attention has been given to the different sources of expectations, how they differ and how they interact. Here we examined the effects of informative hints on perceptual experience, and how these i...
Article
Full-text available
Characteristic symptoms of schizophrenia, such as thought broadcasting, verbal hallucinations, and delusions of being controlled, suggest a failure in distinguishing between oneself and others. In addition, patients frequently experience mentalizing deficits, which could be related to such a failure. Here we investigated the tendency to distinguish...
Preprint
Full-text available
Schizophrenia is a tenacious psychiatric disorder thought to result from synaptic dysfunction. While symptomatology is traditionally divided into positive and negative symptoms, abnormal social cognition is now recognized a key component of schizophrenia. Nonetheless, we are still lacking a mechanistic understanding of how aberrant synaptic connect...
Article
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Consciousness has evolved and is a feature of all animals with sufficiently complex nervous systems. It is, therefore, primarily a problem for biology, rather than physics. In this review, I will consider three aspects of consciousness: level of consciousness, whether we are awake or in a coma; the contents of consciousness, what determines how a s...
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Examining belief and confidence in schizophrenia – ADDENDUM - D. W. Joyce, B. B. Averbeck, C. D. Frith, S. S. Shergill
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The two leading cognitive accounts of consciousness currently available concern global workspace (a form of working memory) and metacognition. There is relatively little interaction between these two approaches and it has even been suggested that the two accounts are rival and separable alternatives. Here, we argue that the successful function of a...
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Scientific research on consciousness is critical to multiple scientific, clinical, and ethical issues. The growth of the field could also be beneficial to several areas including neurology and mental health research. To achieve this goal, we need to set funding priorities carefully and address problems such as job creation and potential media misre...
Article
Humans have been shown to be capable of performing many cognitive tasks using information of which they are not consciously aware. This raises questions about what role consciousness actually plays in cognition. Here, we explored whether participants can learn cue-target contingencies in an attentional learning task when the cues were presented bel...
Article
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In 1983 Libet et al. demonstrated that brain activity associated with a voluntary act precedes conscious experience of the intention to act by several hundred milliseconds. The implication that it is the brain, rather than 'free will', that initiates voluntary acts has been discussed ever since by philosophers and lawyers, as well as by scientists....
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Fueled by developments in computational neuroscience, there has been increasing interest in the underlying neurocomputational mechanisms of psychosis. One successful approach involves predictive coding and Bayesian inference. Here, inferences regarding the current state of the world are made by combining prior beliefs with incoming sensory signals....
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Background: Historically, research investigating neural correlates of mentalizing deficits in schizophrenia has focused on patients who have been ill for several years with lengthy exposure to medication. Little is known about the neural and behavioral presentations of theory-of-mind deficits in schizophrenia, shortly after the first episode of ps...
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Research on social influence has focused mainly on the target of influence (e.g., consumer and voter); thus, the cognitive and neurobiological underpinnings of the source of the influence (e.g., politicians and salesmen) remain unknown. Here, in a three-sided advice-giving game, two advisers competed to influence a client by modulating their own co...
Preprint
Full-text available
Research on social influence has mainly focused on the target of influence (e.g., consumer, voter), while the cognitive and neurobiological underpinnings of the source of the influence (e.g., spin doctor, financial adviser) remain unexplored. Here, we introduce a 3-sided Advising Game consisting of a client and two advisers. Advisers managed their...
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We review the literature to identify common problems of decision-making in individuals and groups. We are guided by a Bayesian framework to explain the interplay between past experience and new evidence, and the problem of exploring the space of hypotheses about all the possible states that the world could be in and all the possible actions that on...
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This article offers a formal account of curiosity and insight in terms of active (Bayesian) inference. It deals with the dual problem of inferring states of the world and learning its statistical structure. In contrast to current trends in machine learning (e.g., deep learning), we focus on how people attain insight and understanding using just a h...
Preprint
Humans have been shown capable of performing many cognitive tasks using information of which they are not consciously aware. This raises questions about what role consciousness actually plays in cognition. Here, we explored whether participants can learn cue-target contingencies in an attentional learning task when the cues were presented below the...
Article
Full-text available
Cognitive skills are the emergent property of distributed neural networks. The distributed nature of these networks does not necessarily imply a lack of specialization of the individual brain structures involved. However, it remains questionable whether discrete aspects of high-level behavior might be the result of localized brain activity of indiv...
Chapter
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The attempt to develop a systematic approach to the study of consciousness begins with René Descartes (1596–1650) and his ideas still have a major influence today. He is best known for the sharp distinction he made between the physical and the mental (Cartesian dualism). According to Descartes, the body is one sort of substance and the mind another...
Chapter
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In order to identify the neural correlates of consciousness it is necessary to distinguish these from the neural correlates associated with unconscious information processing. We describe the various techniques, such as masking, which can be used to generate conditions in which the same stimulus is presented either just above or just below a thresh...
Article
According to the prevailing paradigm in social-cognitive neuroscience, the mental states of individuals become shared when they adapt to each other in the pursuit of a shared goal. We challenge this view by proposing an alternative approach to the cognitive foundations of social interactions. The central claim of this paper is that social cognition...
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Expectation of reward can be shaped by the observation of actions and expressions of other people in one's environment. A person's apparent confidence in the likely reward of an action, for instance, makes qualities of their evidence, not observed directly, socially accessible. This strategy is computationally distinguished from associative learnin...
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Significance statement: Decades of research have provided evidence that ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) signals the satisfaction we expect from imminent actions. Yet, we have a surprisingly modest understanding of the organization of value across this substantial and varied region. This study finds that using cues of the reliability of othe...
Chapter
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The action-oriented approach in cognitive science emphasizes the role of action in shaping, or constituting, perception, cognition, and consciousness. This chapter summarizes a week-long discussion on how the action-oriented approach changes our understanding of consciousness and the structure of experience, combining the viewpoints of philosophers...
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Objective: There is considerable evidence that patients with schizophrenia have neurocognitive and social–cognitive deficits. It is unclear how such deficits in first-episode schizophrenia relate to current clinical symptoms. Method: Fifty-nine patients with first-episode schizophrenia (FES) were tested using the Danish version of NART (premorbid I...
Chapter
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In the World Library of Psychologists series, international experts themselves present career-long collections of what they judge to be their finest pieces - extracts from books, key articles, salient research findings, and their major practical theoretical contributions. Christopher D. Frith has an international reputation as an eminent scholar an...
Article
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When people observe one another, behavioural alignment can be detected at many levels, from the physical to the mental. Likewise, when people process the same highly complex stimulus sequences, such as films and stories, alignment is detected in the elicited brain activity. In early sensory areas, shared neural patterns are coupled to the low-level...
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A step towards a theory of consciousness would be to characterize the effect of consciousness on information processing. One set of results suggests that the effect of consciousness is to interfere with computations that are optimally performed non-consciously. Another set of results suggests that conscious, system 2 processing is the home of norm-...
Book
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Cognitive science is experiencing a pragmatic turn away from the traditional representation-centered framework toward a view that focuses on understanding cognition as “enactive.” This enactive view holds that cognition does not produce models of the world but rather subserves action as it is grounded in sensorimotor skills. In this volume, experts...
Chapter
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Our starting assumption is that consciousness (subjective experience), rather than being an epiphenomenon, has a causal role in the optimisation of certain human behaviours. After briefly outlining some of the critical properties of consciousness, we review the many empirical studies demonstrating how much can be achieved in the way of action and d...
Chapter
Full-text available
The action-oriented approach in cognitive science emphasizes the role of action in shaping, or constituting, perception, cognition, and consciousness. This chapter summarizes a week-long discussion on how the action-oriented approach changes our understanding of consciousness and the structure of experience, combining the viewpoints of philosophers...
Article
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Hermeneutics refers to interpretation and translation of text (typically ancient scriptures) but also applies to verbal and non-verbal communication. In a psychological setting it nicely frames the problem of inferring the intended content of a communication. In this paper, we offer a solution to the problem of neural hermeneutics based upon active...
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We tend to think that everyone deserves an equal say in a debate. This seemingly innocuous assumption can be damaging when we make decisions together as part of a group. To make optimal decisions, group members should weight their differing opinions according to how competent they are relative to one another; whenever they differ in competence, an...
Article
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This paper considers communication in terms of inference about the behaviour of others (and our own behaviour). It is based on the premise that our sensations are largely generated by other agents like ourselves. This means, we are trying to infer how our sensations are caused by others, while they are trying to infer our behaviour: for example, in...
Article
In schizophrenia, executive functions are impaired and are associated with altered activation of prefrontal areas. We used H2[15]O PET to examine patients with schizophrenia and matched controls on a random number generation (RNG) task and a control counting (COUNT) task. To assess the effects of increasing task demand, both tasks were performed at...
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Copyright statement: © 2014 Michael, Sandberg, Skewes, Wolf, Blicher, Overgaard and Frith. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution and reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original...
Article
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It is not just a manner of speaking: “Mind reading,” or working out what others are thinking and feeling, is markedly similar to print reading. Both of these distinctly human skills recover meaning from signs, depend on dedicated cortical areas, are subject to genetically heritable disorders, show cultural variation around a universal core, and reg...
Article
In a range of contexts, individuals arrive at collective decisions by sharing confidence in their judgements. This tendency to evaluate the reliability of information by the confidence with which it is expressed has been termed the 'confidence heuristic'. We tested two ways of implementing the confidence heuristic in the context of a collective per...
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Recent accounts of understanding goal-directed action underline the importance of a hierarchical predictive architecture. However, the neural implementation of such an architecture remains elusive. In the present study, we used functional neuroimaging to quantify brain activity associated with predicting physical movements, as they were modulated b...
Article
In a series of experiments Marc Jeannerod revealed that we have very little awareness of the details and causes of our actions. We are, however, vividly aware of being in control of our actions and this gives us a sense of responsibility. These feelings arise, first, from intentional binding which creates a perception of agency, linking an intentio...
Article
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The human mind is extraordinary in its ability not merely to respond to events as they unfold but also to adapt its own operation in pursuit of its agenda. This 'cognitive control' can be achieved through simple interactions among sensorimotor processes, and through interactions in which one sensorimotor process represents a property of another in...
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Much decision-making requires balancing benefits to the self with benefits to the group. There are marked individual differences in this balance such that individualists tend to favor themselves whereas prosocials tend to favor the group. Understanding the mechanisms underlying this difference has important implications for society and its institut...
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Although it is well established that regions of premotor cortex (PMC) are active during action observation, it remains controversial whether they play a causal role in action understanding. In the experiment reported here, we used off-line continuous theta-burst stimulation (cTBS) to investigate this question. Participants received cTBS over the ha...
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Certain disorders, such as depression and anxiety, to which serotonin dysfunction is historically associated, are also associated with lower assessments of other people's trustworthiness. Serotonergic changes are known to alter cognitive responses to threatening stimuli. This effect may manifest socially as reduced apparent trustworthiness of other...
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Chris Frith explores a masterful model of how consciousness plays out in the theatre of the brain.
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The past two decades have witnessed the birth of the cognitive neurosciences, spurred in large part by the advent of brain scanning technology. From this discipline our understanding of psychological constructs ranging from perception to memory to emotion have been enriched by knowledge of their neural underpinnings. The same is now true of metacog...
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Importance Forward models predict the sensory consequences of planned actions and permit discrimination of self- and non–self-elicited sensation; their impairment in schizophrenia is implied by an abnormality in behavioral force-matching and the flawed agency judgments characteristic of positive symptoms, including auditory hallucinations and delu...