Come Together, Right Now: Dynamic Overwriting of an Object's History through Common Fate

Roy Luria*, Edward K. Vogel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objects around us constantly move and interact, and the perceptual system needs to monitor on-line these interactions and to update the object's status accordingly. Gestalt grouping principles, such as proximity and common fate, play a fundamental role in how we perceive and group these objects. Here, we investigated situations in which the initial object representation as a separate item was updated by a subsequent Gestalt grouping cue (i.e., proximity or common fate). We used a version of the color change detection paradigm, in which the objects started to move separately, then met and stayed stationary, or moved separately, met, and then continued to move together. We monitored the object representations on-line using the contralateral delay activity (CDA; an ERP component indicative of the number of maintained objects), during their movement, and after the objects disappeared and became working memory representations. The results demonstrated that the objects' representations (as indicated by the CDA amplitude) persisted as being separate, even after a Gestalt proximity cue (when the objects "met" and remained stationary on the same position). Only a strong common fate Gestalt cue (when the objects not just met but also moved together) was able to override the objects' initial separate status, creating an integrated representation. These results challenge the view that Gestalt principles cause reflexive grouping. Instead, the object initial representation plays an important role that can override even powerful grouping cues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1819-1828
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2014


FundersFunder number
National Institutes of HealthR01MH077105
National Institute of Mental HealthR01MH087214


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