Okay, so here’s an example. Suppose I’m looking at an apple, and I can recognize that it’s an apple. You might think that’s kind of obvious, of course you can recognize it, but not everyone can. There are people with brain damage who can’t recognize simple objects anymore. So what… There’s actually a miraculous thing happening in our brains when we see an apple on the table and recognize it as an apple and not something else. We…

0:33:09 SS: Think about what’s involved. You have specialized neurons that detect color, there are others that are looking at shape, there are some that are thinking about other qualities of the apple, and we somehow put all those different qualities together to recognize one whole coherent object, the apple. And what you observe in the brain when that’s happening is that the parts of the brain that are noticing color are actually firing electrically at the same frequency as the parts that are noticing shape or whatever. So synchronous oscillation is the brain’s way of, the biologists call it the binding problem. How do you bind all the different features of an object into a coherent single object to recognize that it’s not just a bunch of different things happening in your brain all at once?

0:33:56 SC: Interesting, so it’s not just that there’s a part of my brain saying I’m seeing something red and another part saying I’m seeing something apple-shaped, but they’re saying it in synchrony with each other and somehow that lets the brain or conscious perception say that is an apple.

0:34:11 SS: Yeah, and it says that, right, exactly. Those separate things that are all oscillating in sync are all… Meanwhile, other parts of the brain that are not paying attention or that are thinking about, or interested in other aspects, they’re out of sync and so they’re ignored. It’s the brain’s way of telling itself what’s all part of one object, or one sensation. And this is… Go ahead.


The binding problem. (A) The brain processes the visual attributes of objects (color, motion, shape) in different pathways or regions, and it is generally believed that there must therefore be neural mechanisms that ‘bind‘ this information to generate coherent perceptual experience.

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