- The implementation of visual routines.
- Vision Research
- Volume | Issue number
- 40 | 10-12
- Pages (from-to)
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Many visual tasks can be decomposed into a sequence of simpler subtasks. S. Ullman (1984) suggested that such subtasks are carried out by elemental operations that are implemented by specialized processes in the visual brain. According to this hypothesis, there are a limited number of elemental operations (ELOs) that, since they can be applied sequentially, may nevertheless give rise to a large number of visual routines. Examples of ELOs are visual search, texture segregation and contour grouping. This article attempts to delineate how such ELOs are implemented in the visual brain. When an image appears, feedforward processing rapidly leads to an activity pattern that is distributed across many visual areas. Thereafter, ELOs come into play, and these are implemented by the modulation of firing rates. Firing rate modulations effectuate grouping of neural responses into coherent object representations. Moreover, they permit transfer of information from one operator to the next, which allows flexibility in the sequencing of operations. Ways in which ELOs provide a tool to relate cortical physiology to psychophysics are discussed, and a reclassification of pre-attentive and attentive processes are suggested.
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