Synchrony and the binding problem in macaque visual cortex

Yi Dong, Stefan Mihalas, Fangtu Qiu, Rüdiger von der Heydt, Ernst Niebur

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52 Scopus citations


We tested the binding-by-synchrony hypothesis which proposes that object representations are formed by synchronizing spike activity between neurons that code features of the same object. We studied responses of 32 pairs of neurons recorded with microelectrodes 3 mm apart in the visual cortex of macaques performing a fixation task. Upon mapping the receptive fields of the neurons, a quadrilateral was generated so that two of its sides were centered in the receptive fields at the optimal orientations. This one-figure condition was compared with a two-figure condition in which the neurons were stimulated by two separate figures, keeping the local edges in the receptive fields identical. For each neuron, we also determined its border ownership selectivity (H. Zhou, H. S. Friedman, & R. von der Heydt, 2000). We examined both synchronization and correlation at nonzero time lag. After correcting for effects of the firing rate, we found that synchrony did not depend on the binding condition. However, finding synchrony in a pair of neurons was correlated with finding border-ownership selectivity in both members of the pair. This suggests that the synchrony reflected the connectivity in the network that generates border ownership assignment. Thus, we have not found evidence to support the binding-by-synchrony hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number30
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number7
StatePublished - Nov 11 2008


  • Border ownership
  • Computational modeling
  • Correlation
  • Perceptual organization
  • Space and scene perception
  • Synchrony

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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