Antifragility and the Brain

Top image shows normal “default” state where most of what we experience is predicted through top-down priors, i.e we see / experience what we expect to see based on robust instantiated patterns from past experience. This makes sense from information/physical theories as the brain tries to ‘minimize free energy’ and surprise. The ball falling and ricocheting illustrates the ‘fixity’ of this state – it’s inflexible, we’re unlikely to learn and grow much in this state. 

Bottom image shows where there is a relaxation of top-down priors allowing more bottom-up info flow (direct input from the environment, body etc.). This is a more flexible state and allows for revision of top down priors and beliefs based on what is coming in (it’s no longer as gated). This is essentially a mechanism for fostering change / creativity. 

In the paper’s original context this is to highlight a mechanism for treating depression / mental health problems with psychedelic therapy. 

However in the context of anti-fragility my point is that I see most barriers to personal development being in terms of rigidity and inflexibility of patterns (interesting you can say this about solid items – glass etc.). Is anti-fragility then the encouraging of relaxation of patterns, into a critical (hot zone), where things are flexible and can change so that old priors are challenged and revised?

The community aspect that links nicely is paralleled in the psychotherapeutic environment in psychedelic therapy – the nurturing, supportive environment that utilizes this ‘hot zone’ to create positive change. 

Question is, how do you encourage this ‘hot zone’ in order to get the best of the community support etc. ?

Credit: R. L. Carhart-Harris and K. J. Friston