Effects of stimulus synchrony on mechanisms of perceptual organization
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Elliott, M. A., & Müller, H. J. (2001). Effects of stimulus synchrony on mechanisms of perceptual organization. Visual Cognition, 8(3), 655 - 677.
When neurons adopt a synchronized, oscillatory response to stimulus Gestalten, the phase of those oscillations almost always varies relative to stimulus activity. This has been taken to indicate that form-coding mechanisms are synchronized by internal timing mechanisms, and/or may be sensitive to stimulus activity only via motion detectors. This proposal is problematic for interpreting recent demonstrations of the effects of stimulus synchrony particularly when stimuli are stationary. Here we offer an account of stimulus-driven synchronization supported by evidence that segmentation by stimulus synchrony can be relatively insensitive to explicit motion signals. The argument is made that qualitative similarities between the effects of phase-independent and phase-locked oscillations in the EEG, the effects of phase synchronization at the cellular level and evidence for phase-enhanced stimulus grouping should be considered as functionally equivalent. This argument emphasizes the flexibility of temporal synchrony as a code for perceptual organization.