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Synchrony does not promote grouping in temporally structured displays


It has been proposed that the human visual system can use temporal synchrony to bind image regions into unified objects1,2,3, as proposed in some neural models4. Here we present experimental results from a new dynamic stimulus suggesting that previous evidence for this hypothesis can be explained with the well-established mechanisms of early visual processing, thus obviating the need to posit new synchrony-sensitive grouping mechanisms (see also ref. 5 for a critique of the binding by neural synchrony hypothesis).

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Figure 1: One frame of the Gabor and dot stimulus, and sample output of temporal band-pass filtering.
Figure 2: Temporal properties of the dot stimulus.
Figure 3: Experimental results.


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H.F. is supported by a National Science Foundation Career Award (IIS-99-83806) and a departmental National Science Foundation Infrastructure grant (EIA-98-02068). E.H.A. is supported by a National Institute of Health grant (EY12690-02).

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Correspondence to Hany Farid.

Supplementary information

QuickTime movies of our dynamic dot stimulus.

(a) The 180 degrees straight condition (MOV 984 KB)

(b) The 120 degrees zig-zag condition (MOV 950 KB)

(c) The 90 degrees random-walk condition (MOV 984 KB)

The perception of form is visible only in condition (a) which is the only condition that contains a temporal contrast cue. The motion reversals in all three conditions are synchronized.

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Farid, H., Adelson, E. Synchrony does not promote grouping in temporally structured displays. Nat Neurosci 4, 875–876 (2001).

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