Temporary binding of descriptions in perception (Al Bregman )

Subject: Temporary binding of descriptions in perception
From:    Al Bregman  <bregman(at)HEBB.PSYCH.MCGILL.CA>
Date:    Tue, 20 May 1997 15:35:53 -0400

Thanks to everyone who replied to my message about the implications of Dick Warren's observations concerning multiple bindings of single concepts in a description. However, none of them addressed Dick's major observation. How could one "binding" of properties (say the voice at the left ear) habituate independently of the other binding when it involves the same word? Before anybody says that the two bindings differ in the other concepts in them (e.g., MALE-RIGHT vs. FEMALE-LEFT), you should recall that it is not these concepts that are becoming habituated independently. The listener would continue to hear a male at the right and a female at the left. What habituates independently is the shared word at left and right. If the shared word were the identical node (or oscillator), how could it habituate independently at the left and right? The idea that new tissue could be co-opted for "new" descriptions involving "old" concepts was rejected as unrealistic by Christophe von der Malsburg in his reply, but I am wondering whether there might not exist uncommitted pools of neurons that could serve this function? Have any theories of this sort been developed? - Al Bregman

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Electrical Engineering Dept., Columbia University