Abstract and Keywords
A powerful and influential view to visual perception has been that visual information is processed hierarchically: it proceeds in a series of cascaded stages, which can be associated with distinct brain areas, from a mosaic of simple, local features to an integrated representation of a visual object. Here I will argue that lateral and recurrent connectivity within and between brain areas motivate a range of alternative views, for which I consider the evidence from neural activity. I conclude that perceptual integration proceeds in parallel at different levels, encompassing ever-widening circles of contextual information. At all these levels, visual representations are dynamically dependent on their context; from contour patterns in early visual perception, to episodic events in later stages. The view proposed here implies intrinsic holism, which means that already in the early visual areas, information is integrated across populations of neurons.
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