Coding of visual object features and feature conjunctions in the human brain

Jasna Martinovic, Thomas Gruber, Matthias M Mueller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)


Object recognition is achieved through neural mechanisms reliant on the activity of distributed coordinated neural assemblies. In the initial steps of this process, an object's features are thought to be coded very rapidly in distinct neural assemblies. These features play different functional roles in the recognition process - while colour facilitates recognition, additional contours and edges delay it. Here, we selectively varied the amount and role of object features in an entry-level categorization paradigm and related them to the electrical activity of the human brain. We found that early synchronizations (approx. 100 ms) increased quantitatively when more image features had to be coded, without reflecting their qualitative contribution to the recognition process. Later activity (approx. 200-400 ms) was modulated by the representational role of object features. These findings demonstrate that although early synchronizations may be sufficient for relatively crude discrimination of objects in visual scenes, they cannot support entry-level categorization. This was subserved by later processes of object model selection, which utilized the representational value of object features such as colour or edges to select the appropriate model and achieve identification.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere3781
Number of pages10
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2008


  • gamma-band-responses
  • repetition priming task
  • human EEG
  • time-course
  • neurophysiological evidence
  • bioelectric events
  • evoked-potentials
  • recognition
  • color
  • identification


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