News of the WeekNeurobiology

Time Cues Help the Brain See Objects

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Science  14 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5417, pp. 1098-1099
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5417.1098

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Work described in this issue reveals one of the brain's tricks for grouping the myriad features of a visual scene into the discrete objects that form the scene. On page 1165, researchers provide the most convincing demonstration yet that the visual system can exploit timing information, even in the absence of any other cues, grouping features of the scene that change at the same time into coherent objects. The work has spurred a vigorous debate among neuroscientists about whether it provides support for a controversial hypothesis postulating that neurons in the visual system that are responding to different parts of the same object become bound together by firing in synchrony.