Counting Multidimensional Objects: Implications for the Neural-Synchrony Theory

Liat Goldfarb, Anne Treisman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It has been suggested that a neural instantiation of the temporary multidimensional representations of objects might be synchrony of firing between the neurons representing the features that co-occur in a given location. In this article, we direct attention to a logical problem that arises when certain synchrony assumptions are applied to real situations in which multiple multidimensional objects are presented. We demonstrate a new behavioral effect that shows that this logical problem coincides with a genuine behavioral problem. Even when a display contains only a small number of objects characterized by features on two dimensions, the representation of the display becomes difficult when, according to our described assumptions, the object representations cannot be simultaneously synchronized on both features. This article outlines a new principle that governs object representation, and the experimental results might be unique behavioral evidence for a neural-based theory of feature binding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-271
Number of pages6
JournalPsychological Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by fellowships from the Israel Science Foundation (Bikura), the Rothschild Foundation, and the Advancing Women in Science program of the Weizmann Institute of Science (L. G.) and by Grants 2004 2RO1 MH 058383-04A1 and EY016975 from the National Institutes of Health (A. T.).


  • cognitive neuroscience
  • cognitive processes
  • feature binding
  • neural synchrony
  • object-file theory
  • visual perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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