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Background: In the human visual system, different attributes of an object, such as shape, color, and motion, are processedseparately in different areas of the brain. This raises a fundamental question of how are these attributes integrated toproduce a unified perception and a specific response. This ''binding problem'' is computationally difficult because allattributes are assumed to be bound together to form a single object representation. However, there is no firm evidence toconfirm that such representations exist for general objects.Methodology/Principal Findings: Here we propose a paired-attribute model in which cognitive processes are based onmultiple representations of paired attributes. In line with the model's prediction, we found that multiattribute stimuli canproduce an illusory perception of a multiattribute object arising from erroneous integration of attribute pairs, implying thatobject recognition is based on parallel perception of paired attributes. Moreover, in a change-detection task, a featurechange in a single attribute frequently caused an illusory perception of change in another attribute, suggesting thatmultiple pairs of attributes are stored in memory.Conclusions/Significance: The paired-attribute model can account for some novel illusions and controversial findings onbinocular rivalry and short-term memory. Our results suggest that many cognitive processes are performed at the level ofpaired attributes rather than integrated objects, which greatly facilitates the binding problem and provides simplersolutions for it.


  • PLoS ONE

    PLoS ONE 5(3), e9571, 2010-03

    Public Library of Science



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