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The autonomy of the visual systems and the modularity of conscious vision


Bartels,  A
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Zeki, S., & Bartels, A. (1998). The autonomy of the visual systems and the modularity of conscious vision. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B, 353(1377), 1911-1914. doi:10.1098/rstb.1998.0343.

Anatomical and physiological evidence shows that the primate visual brain consists of many distributed processing systems, acting in parallel. Psychophysical studies show that the activity in each of the parallel systems reaches its perceptual end-point at a different time, thus leading to a perceptual asynchrony in vision. This, together with clinical and human imaging evidence, suggests strongly that the processing systems are also perceptual systems and that the different processing-perceptual systems can act more or less autonomously. Moreover, activity in each can have a conscious correlate without necessarily involving activity in other visual systems. This leads us to conclude not only that visual consciousness is itself modular, reflecting the basic modular organization of the visual brain, but that the binding of cellular activity in the processing-perceptual systems is more properly thought of as a binding of the consciousnesses generated by each of them. It is this binding that gives us our integrated image of the visual world.