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Symmetric Objects Become Special in Perception Because of Generic Computations in Neurons

Pramod, RT and Arun, SP (2018) Symmetric Objects Become Special in Perception Because of Generic Computations in Neurons. In: Psychological Science, 29 (1). pp. 95-109.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797617729808


Symmetry is a salient visual property: It is easy to detect and influences perceptual phenomena from segmentation to recognition. Yet researchers know little about its neural basis. Using recordings from single neurons in monkey IT cortex, we asked whether symmetry—being an emergent property—induces nonlinear interactions between object parts. Remarkably, we found no such deviation: Whole-object responses were always the sum of responses to the object’s parts, regardless of symmetry. The only defining characteristic of symmetric objects was that they were more distinctive compared with asymmetric objects. This was a consequence of neurons preferring the same part across locations within an object. Just as mixing diverse paints produces a homogeneous overall color, adding heterogeneous parts within an asymmetric object renders it indistinct. In contrast, adding identical parts within a symmetric object renders it distinct. This distinctiveness systematically predicted human symmetry judgments, and it explains many previous observations about symmetry perception. Thus, symmetry becomes special in perception despite being driven by generic computations at the level of single neurons.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Psychological Science
Publisher: SAGE Publications Inc.
Additional Information: The copyright for this article belongs to the Authors.
Keywords: adult; animal; animal behavior; female; Haplorhini; human; male; nerve cell; pattern recognition; physiology; temporal lobe; young adult, Adult; Animals; Behavior, Animal; Female; Form Perception; Haplorhini; Humans; Male; Neurons; Pattern Recognition, Visual; Temporal Lobe; Young Adult
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Neuroscience
Division of Electrical Sciences > Electrical Communication Engineering
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2022 10:29
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2022 10:29
URI: https://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/76379

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