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Perceptual grouping in the human brain: common processing of different cues

Seymour, Kiley; Karnath, Hans-Otto; Himmelbach, Marc

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e328318ed82

The perception of global scenes and objects consisting of multiple constituents is based on the integration of local elements or features. Gestalt grouping cues, such as proximity or similarity, can aid this process. Using functional MRI we investigated whether grouping guided by different gestalt cues rely on distinct networks in the brain or share a common network. Our study revealed that gestalt grouping involved the inferior parietal cortex, middle temporal gyrus and prefrontal cortex irrespective of the specific cue used. These findings agree with observations in neurological patients, which suggest that inferior parietal regions may aid the integration of local features into a global gestalt. Damage to this region results in simultanagnosia, a deficit in perceiving multiple objects and global scenes.

Section Neuropsychology, Center for Neurology, Hertie-Institute for Clinical Brain Research, Eberhard Karls University, Tuebingen, Germany

Correspondence to Kiley Seymour, School of Psychology, University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

Tel: +61 29351 7636; fax: +61 2 9351 2603; e-mail:

Received 29 July 2008; accepted 11 September 2008

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.