13 - Dynamics of visual feature binding  pp. 199-215

Dynamics of visual feature binding

By Colin W. G. Clifford

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Summary

This chapter is concerned with the temporal aspects of visual binding. In particular, it concentrates on findings from studies of perceptual asynchrony between stimulus features and the temporal resolution of feature binding. I review the circumstances in which perceptual asynchronies are apparent versus those in which they are not. I argue that the existing data cannot be accounted for simply by a characteristic latency difference in the processing of different visual attributes (Moutoussis & Zeki 1997a,b) or by a scheme of temporal markers at salient stimulus transitions (Nishida & Johnston 2002). Instead, I outline a potential mechanism based on feedback from higher visual areas to primary visual cortex to account for the dynamics of binding color with orientation and direction of motion.

Introduction

How is the content of our conscious visual experience related to neural processing? Is our visual awareness an online monitor of visual processing, or do interpretative processes intervene to give conscious visual experience a postdictive quality? In the words of William James, “A succession of feelings, in and of itself, is not a feeling of succession. And because, to our successive feelings, a feeling of their own succession is added, that must be treated as an additional fact requiring its own special elucidation” (James 1890). But what is the nature of this “additional fact”? The simplest account would seem to be that the perceived sequence of events is directly related to the amount and duration of neural processing needed to achieve conscious experience (Jeannerod 1992).

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