To be published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (in press)

© Cambridge University Press 2012


Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Call for Commentary Proposals


Whatever Next? Predictive Brains, Situated Agents, and the Future of Cognitive Science

Andy Clark

Deadline for Commentary Proposals: March 8, 2012


If this target article interests you as a possible subject for commentary, please download the full pre-print to see if you would like to propose a commentary. If you are interested please follow the instructions below the target article information. Please keep in mind that we are not asking you to submit a commentary -- but rather, a short proposal in order to be considered as an invited author after the proposal deadline. The instructions below are also in the Call letter you may have received.


Abstract: Brains, it has recently been argued, are essentially prediction machines. They are bundles of cells that support perception and action by constantly attempting to match incoming sensory inputs with top-down expectations or predictions. This is achieved using a hierarchical generative model that aims to minimize prediction error within a bidirectional cascade of cortical processing.  Such accounts offer a unifying model of perception and action, illuminate the functional role of attention, and may neatly capture the special contribution of cortical processing to adaptive success. The paper critically examines this ‘hierarchical prediction machine’ approach, concluding that it offers the best clue yet to the shape of a unified science of mind and action. Sections 1 and 2 lay out the key elements and implications of the approach. Section 3 explores a variety of pitfalls and challenges, spanning the evidential, the methodological, and the more properly conceptual. The paper ends (sections 4 and 5) by asking how such approaches might impact our more general vision of mind, experience, and agency.


Keywords: Action, attention, Bayesian brain, expectation, generative model, hierarchy, perception, precision, predictive coding, prediction, prediction error, top-down

Download Target Article Preprint


About Commentary Proposals: When a target article or recent book has been accepted for BBS Commentary, the editorial office sends out the Call for Commentary Proposals to thousands of people. Commentary Proposals help the BBS Editors craft a well-balanced commentary invitation list.


New Commentary Proposal Submission Instructions


In order to nominate yourself for commentary invitation, follow the instructions below and submit a Commentary Proposal via the BBS Editorial Manager site:


You may also find these instructions available in PDF form at


If you have received the Call for Commentary Proposals, your username and password should have been included inside the email.  At the Editorial Manager (EM) site you can register a new user account, update your existing information, or retrieve your username and password.


Information on recently accepted target articles or books that are currently open for Commentary Proposal submission are available at





1. What aspect of the target article or book you would anticipate commenting on.


2. The relevant expertise you would bring to bear on the target article or book.+


+Including your relevant expertise saves the Editors valuable time when evaluating proposals. If one of these requirements is missing, your proposal will be returned for resubmission.


Please include names and affiliations of your potential co-authors if applicable.



Suggesting Commentators and Nominating BBS Associates:


To suggest others as possible Commentators, or to nominate others for BBS Associateship status, please email





1. Log-in as Author


Log-in to your BBS Editorial Manager account as an author:


If you do not have an account, please visit the site and register.  You can also submit a request for missing username and password information if you have an existing account.


2. Submit New Manuscript


Within your author main menu please select Submit New Manuscript.


3. Select Article Type


Choose the article type of your manuscript from the pull-down menu.  Commentary Proposal article types are temporarily created for each accepted target article or book.  Only select the Commentary Proposal article type that you wish to submit a proposal on.  For example: "Commentary Proposal (Clark)"

4. Enter Title


Please title your proposal submission by indicating the relevant first author name of the target article or book.  For example: "Commentary Proposal on Clark"


5. Co-Authors


Commentary Proposal submissions are limited to a single author.  However, if you are proposing to write a commentary with co-authors -- please list their names, affiliations and email addresses in the body of your Commentary Proposal document.


6. Attach File


The only required submission Item is your Commentary Proposal in MSWord or RTF format.  In the Description field please add the first author name of the target article or book.  For example: "Commentary Proposal on Clark"


7. Approve Your Submission


Editorial Manager will process your Commentary Proposal submission and will create a PDF for your approval.   On the Submissions Waiting for Author's Approval page, you can view your PDF, edit, approve, or remove the submission.  Once you have Approved the Submission, the PDF will be sent to the editorial office. Please note: It may take several minutes for the blue Action Menu to appear, allowing you to Approve the Submission.


8. Editorial Office Decision


At the conclusion of the Commentary Proposal period, the editors will review all the submitted Commentary Proposals.  An undetermined number of Commentary Proposals will be approved and those author names will be added to the final commentary invitation list.  At that time you will be notified of the decision.  If you are formally invited to submit a commentary, you will be asked to confirm your intention to submit by the commentary deadline.


Note: Before the commentary invitations are sent, the copy-edited and revised target article will be posted for invitees.  In the case of Multiple Book Review, invitees will be sent a copy of the book to be commented upon if requested.  With Multiple Book Reviews, it is the book, not the Précis article that is the target of commentary.


Please do not write a commentary unless you have received an official invitation!


If you have any questions or problems, please email