A moment to reflect upon perceptual synchrony
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Elliott, M. A., Shi, Z., & Kelly, S. D. (2006). A moment to reflect upon perceptual synchrony. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 18(10), 1663-1665.
How does neuronal activity bring about the interpretation of visual space in terms of objects or complex perceptual events? If they group, simple visual features can bring about the integration of spikes from neurons responding to different features to within a few milliseconds. Considered as a potential solution to the "binding problem," it is suggested that neuronal synchronization is the glue for binding together different features of the same object. This idea receives some support from correlated- and periodic-stimulus motion paradigms, both of which suggest that the segregation of a figure from ground is a direct result of the temporal correlation of visual signals. One could say that perception of a highly correlated visual structure permits space to be bound in time. However, on closer analysis, the concept of perceptual synchrony is insufficient to explain the conditions under which events will be seen as simultaneous. Instead, the grouping effects ascribed to perceptual synchrony are better explained in terms of the intervals of time over which stimulus events integrate and seem to occur simultaneously. This point is supported by the equivalence of some of these measures with well-established estimates of the perceptual moment. However, it is time in extension and not the instantaneous that may best describe how seemingly simultaneous features group. This means that studies of perceptual synchrony are insufficient to address the binding problem.