Home > Soul > Part III > 36. Binding and Attention > Next

Section A

Section B

Section C

Section D

Section E

Section F


When you play tennis, you may see "a white, round ball moving quickly in a certain direction." This scene consists of four items (or modules/features): color, shape, direction and speed of the ball. The binding problem of consciousness refers to the binding of these items into a single integrated conscious percept (Feldman, 2013; Whitney, 2009). In the brain, it has been well established that visual signals are processed through two different pathways, known as ventral and dorsal streams (discussed in Section B). After being processed, how can distinct modules be combined into an integrated scene?

The Feature Integration Theory (FIT) posits that attention plays a key role in binding features (items) into an object (Treisman and Gelade, 1980), for instance, combining the color "red", with the shape "square" into a "red square". According to FIT, conscious perception of an object requires two stages. During the early stage, features (such as color and shape) are detected automatically, unconsciously and in parallel by the visual system. In the later stage, attention is required to bind selected features, resulting in conscious perception of the whole object with these features. The idea may also apply to the binding of any types of modules into an entire scene such as "a white, round ball moving quickly in a certain direction" or "a room comprising window, table, sofa and television."


Figure 36a. Two-stage perception by the mind (blue background). Green dots represent the items in the preconscious domain. Red dots are the items that can be consciously perceived at a given moment. Attention is required to switch an item from the preconscious domain into the conscious domain.

The early stage is called the "pre-attention" stage in FIT. As a matter of fact, more than a century ago, Sigmund Freud has already proposed that, between the conscious and unconscious state, there exists a preconscious state which may easily become conscious through attention. However, Treisman and her colleagues have been able to provide compelling evidence to support the theory, such as the Bálint's syndrome.

A. Bálint's syndrome

B. Visual Pathway

C. Salience and Central Execution

D. Suppression and Selection Functions of Alpha

E. The θ-Nested-γ Code

F. The Harmonic Alpha-Theta Coupling


Author: Frank Lee
Posted on: 2020-08-27