Mechanisms of perceptual organization provide auto-zoom and auto-localization for attention to objects

Stefan Mihalas, Yi Dong, Rüdiger Von Der Heydt, Ernst Niebur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Visual attention is often understood as a modulatory field acting at early stages of processing, but the mechanisms that direct and fit the field to the attended object are not known. We show that a purely spatial attention field propagating downward in the neuronal network responsible for perceptual organization will be reshaped, repositioned, and sharpened to match the object's shape and scale. Key features of the model are grouping neurons integrating local features into coherent tentative objects, excitatory feedback to the same local feature neurons that caused grouping neuron activation, and inhibition between incompatible interpretations both at the local feature level and at the object representation level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7583-7588
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number18
StatePublished - May 3 2011



  • Border ownership
  • Computational model
  • Figure-ground segregation
  • Proto-object
  • Top-down attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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