A fundamental task of vision is to group the image elements that belong to one object and to segregate them from other objects and the background. I will discuss a conceptual framework that explains how perceptual grouping is implemented in the visual cortex. According to this framework, two mechanisms are responsible for perceptual grouping: base-grouping and incremental grouping. Base-groupings are coded by single neurons tuned to multiple features, like the combination of a color and an orientation. They are computed rapidly because they reflect the selectivity of feed forward connections that propagate information from lower to higher areas of the visual cortex. However, not all conceivable feature combinations are coded by dedicated neurons. Therefore, a second, flexible form of grouping is required that is called incremental grouping.
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