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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Aug 6;99(16):10917-22. Epub 2002 Jul 29.

The role of the parietal cortex in visual feature binding.

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  • 1Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Yale University School of Medicine, 333 Cedar Street, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


When multiple objects are simultaneously present in a scene, the visual system must properly integrate the features associated with each object. It has been proposed that this "binding problem" is solved by selective attention to the locations of the objects [Treisman, A.M. & Gelade, E. (1980) Cogn. Psychol. 12, 97-136]. If spatial attention plays a role in feature integration, it should do so primarily when object location can serve as a binding cue. Using functional MRI (fMRI), we show that regions of the parietal cortex involved in spatial attention are more engaged in feature conjunction tasks than in single feature tasks when multiple objects are shown simultaneously at different locations but not when they are shown sequentially at the same location. These findings suggest that the spatial attention network of the parietal cortex is involved in feature binding but only when spatial information is available to resolve ambiguities about the relationships between object features.

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