Objects in context [Elektronische Ressource] : the neurocognitive representation, binding, and processing of object and context features in recognition memory ; an electrophysiological approach / vorgelegt von Ullrich K. H. Ecker
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Objects in context [Elektronische Ressource] : the neurocognitive representation, binding, and processing of object and context features in recognition memory ; an electrophysiological approach / vorgelegt von Ullrich K. H. Ecker

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Objects in Context Objects in Context The Neurocognitive Representation, Binding, and The Neurocognitive Representation, Binding, and Processing of Object and Context Features in Processing of Object and Context Features in Recognition Memory – An Electrophysiological Approach Recognition Memory – An Electrophysiological Approach Dissertation zur Erlangung des Grades eines Dissertation zur Erlangung des Grades eines Doktors der Philosophie Doktors der Philosophie der Philosophischen Fakultäten der Universität des Saarlandes der Philosophischen Fakultäten der Universität des Saarlandes vorgelegt von vorgelegt von Ullrich K. H. Ecker Ullrich K. H. Ecker aus St. Ingbert aus St. Ingbert Diplom-Psychologe Diplom-Psychologe Saarbrücken, 2007 Saarbrücken, 2007 Dekan: Dekan: Prof. Dr. Rainer Krause, Universität des Saarlandes Prof. Dr. Rainer Krause, Universität des Saarlandes Berichterstatter: Berichterstatter: Prof. Dr. Hubert D. Zimmer, Universität des Saarlandes Prof. Dr. Hubert D. Zimmer, Universität des Saarlandes Prof. Dr. Axel Mecklinger, Universität des Saarlandes Prof. Dr. Axel Mecklinger, Universität des Saarlandes Tag der Disputation: 20.07.2007 Tag der Disputation: 20.07.

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Published 01 January 2007
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Objects in Context Objects in Context

The Neurocognitive Representation, Binding, and The Neurocognitive Representation, Binding, and
Processing of Object and Context Features in Processing of Object and Context Features in
Recognition Memory – An Electrophysiological Approach Recognition Memory – An Electrophysiological Approach


Dissertation zur Erlangung des Grades eines Dissertation zur Erlangung des Grades eines
Doktors der Philosophie Doktors der Philosophie
der Philosophischen Fakultäten der Universität des Saarlandes der Philosophischen Fakultäten der Universität des Saarlandes




vorgelegt von vorgelegt von

Ullrich K. H. Ecker Ullrich K. H. Ecker
aus St. Ingbert aus St. Ingbert
Diplom-Psychologe Diplom-Psychologe


Saarbrücken, 2007 Saarbrücken, 2007






























Dekan: Dekan:

Prof. Dr. Rainer Krause, Universität des Saarlandes Prof. Dr. Rainer Krause, Universität des Saarlandes




Berichterstatter: Berichterstatter:

Prof. Dr. Hubert D. Zimmer, Universität des Saarlandes Prof. Dr. Hubert D. Zimmer, Universität des Saarlandes

Prof. Dr. Axel Mecklinger, Universität des Saarlandes Prof. Dr. Axel Mecklinger, Universität des Saarlandes




Tag der Disputation: 20.07.2007 Tag der Disputation: 20.07.2007
II II
i seem to recognize your face, haunting, familiayre, t i can't seem to place it i seem to recognize your face, haunting, familiayre, t i can't seem to place it
cannot find a candle of thought to light your nam leif,etimes are catching up with me cannot find a candle of thought to light your nam leif,etimes are catching up with me
all these changes taking place, i wish i'd seen thpelace, but no one's ever taken me all these changes taking place, i wish i'd seen thpelace, but no one's ever taken me
hearts and thoughts they fade away hearts and thoughts they fade away
i swear i recognize your breath, memories like fienrgprints are slowly raising i swear i recognize your breath, memories like fienrgprints are slowly raising
me you wouldn't recall, for i'm not my former, iht'asrd when you're stuck upon a shelf me you wouldn't recall, for i'm not my former, iht'asrd when you're stuck upon a shelf
i changed by not changing at all, small town pretds icmy fate, perhaps that's what no one wants to i changed by not changing at all, small town pretds icmy fate, perhaps that's what no one wants to
see see
i just want to scream...hello, my god it's been lsoon g, never dreamed you'd return i just want to scream...hello, my god it's been lsoon g, never dreamed you'd return
but now here you are, and here i am but now here you are, and here i am
hearts and thoughts they fade away hearts and thoughts they fade away

Eddie Vedder (pearl jam) – elderly woman beohuintde rai n ca small town Eddie Vedder (pearl jam) – elderly woman beohuintde rai n ca small town


do you remember me do you remember me
i was the giver of eternity i was the giver of eternity
will you surrender to me will you surrender to me
i scream repress repress repress i scream repress repress repress
you won't get rid of me you won't get rid of me

Ullrich Ecker (raindog) – dr zhivago Ullrich Ecker (raindog) – dr zhivago



memory is who we are, yet memory is also dependeont whom we've chosen to be […it] holds us memory is who we are, yet memory is also dependeont whom we've chosen to be […it] holds us
together and can break us apart together and can break us apart

Chris Oricchio Chris Oricchio


you can't put your arms around a memory you can't put your arms around a memory

Johnny Thunder s Johnny Thunder s









To my wife, best friend, and sharer of dreams, Birgit: Thanks for your support, I love you. To my wife, best friend, and sharer of dreams, Birgit: Thanks for your support, I love you.

underneath that smile lies everything underneath that smile lies everything

Eddie Vedder (pearl jam) – insi de job Eddie Vedder (pearl jam) – insi de job




To my beloved sons, Toby Jonah & Daniel James*: The world is yours. Go for it. To my beloved sons, Toby Jonah & Daniel James*: The world is yours. Go for it.

when he was six he believed the moon overhead fowlleod him when he was six he believed the moon overhead fowlleod him
by nine, he had deciphered the illusion, trading mgica for fact by nine, he had deciphered the illusion, trading mgica for fact
no tradebacks no tradebacks
if he only knew now what he knew then if he only knew now what he knew then

Eddie Vedder (pearl jam) – I'm open Eddie Vedder (pearl jam) – I'm open


* as you made your way to Earth (still equivalent to your mum's belly at this stage) around the same time as this thesis, the name is * as you made your way to Earth (still equivalent to your mum's belly at this stage) around the same time as this thesis, the name is
preliminary… ☺ preliminary… ☺
III III IV IV Overview Overview

1 Introduction..................................................................................................................1 1 Introduction..................................................................................................................1
2 Objects in Our Head - Types and Tokens ..................................................................6 2 Objects in Our Head - Types and Tokens ..................................................................6
2.1 Types vs. Tokens ................................................................................................6 2.1 Types vs. Tokens ................................................................................................6
2.2 Object Tokens vs. Episodic Tokens.....................................................................9 2.2 Object Tokens vs. Episodic Tokens.....................................................................9
2.2.1 Familiarity vs. Recollection............................................................................9 2.2.1 Familiarity vs. Recollection............................................................................9
2.2.2 Object & Episodic Tokens & the Binding of Intrinsic & Extrinsic Information 15 2.2.2 Object & Episodic Tokens & the Binding of Intrinsic & Extrinsic Information 15
2.2.3 Support for the Token Distinction ................................................................18 2.2.3 Support for the Token Distinction ................................................................18
3 Synopsis ....................................................................................................................25 3 Synopsis ....................................................................................................................25
4 Experiments I.............................................................................................................28 4 Experiments I.............................................................................................................28
4.1 Experiment 1 .....................................................................................................28 4.1 Experiment 1 .....................................................................................................28
4.1.1 Design and Hypotheses ..............................................................................28 4.1.1 Design and Hypotheses ..............................................................................28
4.1.2 Methods ......................................................................................................30 4.1.2 Methods ......................................................................................................30
4.1.3 Results and Discussion...............................................................................33 4.1.3 Results and Discussion...............................................................................33
4.2 Experiment 2 .....................................................................................................36 4.2 Experiment 2 .....................................................................................................36
4.2.1 Design, Hypotheses and Methods...............................................................36 4.2.1 Design, Hypotheses and Methods...............................................................36
4.2.2 Results and Discussion...............................................................................38 4.2.2 Results and Discussion...............................................................................38
4.3 Experiment 3 .....................................................................................................52 4.3 Experiment 3 .....................................................................................................52
4.3.1 Design, Hypotheses and Methods...............................................................52 4.3.1 Design, Hypotheses and Methods...............................................................52
4.3.2 Results and Discussion...............................................................................53 4.3.2 Results and Discussion...............................................................................53
5 Interim Discussion.....................................................................................................59 5 Interim Discussion.....................................................................................................59
5.1 Summary...........................................................................................................59 5.1 Summary...........................................................................................................59
5.2 Effects of the Intrinsic Feature Manipulation ......................................................61 5.2 Effects of the Intrinsic Feature Manipulation ......................................................61
5.3 Effects of the Extrinsic Feature Manipulation .....................................................64 5.3 Effects of the Extrinsic Feature Manipulation .....................................................64
6 Experiments II............................................................................................................67 6 Experiments II............................................................................................................67
6.1 Experiment 4 .....................................................................................................67 6.1 Experiment 4 .....................................................................................................67
6.1.1 Design, Hypotheses and Methods...............................................................67 6.1.1 Design, Hypotheses and Methods...............................................................67
6.1.2 Results and Discussion...............................................................................69 6.1.2 Results and Discussion...............................................................................69
V V 6.1.3 Discussion ..................................................................................................80 6.1.3 Discussion ..................................................................................................80
6.2 Experiment 5 .....................................................................................................84 6.2 Experiment 5 .....................................................................................................84
6.2.1 Design, Hypotheses and Methods...............................................................86 6.2.1 Design, Hypotheses and Methods...............................................................86
6.2.2 Results........................................................................................................89 6.2.2 Results........................................................................................................89
6.2.3 Discussion ..................................................................................................99 6.2.3 Discussion ..................................................................................................99
7 General Discussion .................................................................................................104 7 General Discussion .................................................................................................104
7.1 Summary.........................................................................................................104 7.1 Summary.........................................................................................................104
7.2 Familiarity is Perceptually Specific. Is it also Associative? ...............................105 7.2 Familiarity is Perceptually Specific. Is it also Associative? ...............................105
7.2.1 Associative Familiarity...............................................................................105 7.2.1 Associative Familiarity...............................................................................105
7.2.2 Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Binding...............................................................108 7.2.2 Intrinsic versus Extrinsic Binding...............................................................108
7.2.3 Types of Context.......................................................................................110 7.2.3 Types of Context.......................................................................................110
7.3 Episodic versus Semantic (Familiarity) Memory...............................................114 7.3 Episodic versus Semantic (Familiarity) Memory...............................................114
7.4 One Dual Process out of Control? ...................................................................118 7.4 One Dual Process out of Control? ...................................................................118
7.4.1 Where is Control – or – A Neuroanatomical Peculiarity .............................118 7.4.1 Where is Control – or – A Neuroanatomical Peculiarity .............................118
7.4.2 Global Match and Dual Processing Models...............................................119 7.4.2 Global Match and Dual Processing Models...............................................119
7.4.3 Resolution: Iteration. Interaction. Integration. ............................................125 7.4.3 Resolution: Iteration. Interaction. Integration. ............................................125
8 Conclusion...............................................................................................................132 8 Conclusion...............................................................................................................132
9 Appendix ..................................................................................................................134 9 Appendix ..................................................................................................................134
10 Zusammenfassung................................................................................................136 10 Zusammenfassung................................................................................................136
10.1 Einleitung.......................................................................................................136 10.1 Einleitung.......................................................................................................136
10.2 Experimente ..................................................................................................139 10.2 Experimente ..................................................................................................139
10.3 Diskussion.....................................................................................................144 10.3 Diskussion.....................................................................................................144
11 References .............................................................................................................147 11 References .............................................................................................................147
Abbreviations................................................................................................................168 Abbreviations................................................................................................................168
Annotation ....................................................................................................................169 Annotation ....................................................................................................................169
Danksagung .................................................................................................................170 Danksagung .................................................................................................................170
Curriculum vitae............................................................................................................171 Curriculum vitae............................................................................................................171
VI VI Figure Index Figure Index

Figure 1. Illustration of the binding problem; figure adapted from Cer & O'Reilly (2006).....2 Figure 1. Illustration of the binding problem; figure adapted from Cer & O'Reilly (2006).....2
Figure 2. Stimuli used by O'Craven et al. (1999)................................................................3 Figure 2. Stimuli used by O'Craven et al. (1999)................................................................3
Figure 3. Results of Srinivas & Verfaellie (2000)..............................................................12 Figure 3. Results of Srinivas & Verfaellie (2000)..............................................................12
Figure 4. ERP old-new effects reported by Smith (1993) .................................................12 Figure 4. ERP old-new effects reported by Smith (1993) .................................................12
Figure 5. FN400 effects of Curran & Cleary (2003)..........................................................13 Figure 5. FN400 effects of Curran & Cleary (2003)..........................................................13
Figure 6. Schematic diagram depicting the MTLC's interface role....................................15 Figure 6. Schematic diagram depicting the MTLC's interface role....................................15
Figure 7: Schematic depiction of sparse representation in the hippocampus ...................17 Figure 7: Schematic depiction of sparse representation in the hippocampus ...................17
Figure 8: A schematic depiction of the neurocognitive type-token model .........................17 Figure 8: A schematic depiction of the neurocognitive type-token model .........................17
Figure 9. Results of Davachi et al. (2003)........................................................................20 Figure 9. Results of Davachi et al. (2003)........................................................................20
Figure 10. Results of Groh-Bordin et al. (2005) ...............................................................26 Figure 10. Results of Groh-Bordin et al. (2005) ...............................................................26
Figure 11. Examples of items used in Experiment 1 ........................................................31 Figure 11. Examples of items used in Experiment 1 ........................................................31
Figure 12: Object (old-new) decision data, Experiment 1.................................................33 Figure 12: Object (old-new) decision data, Experiment 1.................................................33
Figure 13: Feature decision data, Experiment 1...............................................................34 Figure 13: Feature decision data, Experiment 1...............................................................34
Figure 14: ERPs, Experiment 1 .......................................................................................35 Figure 14: ERPs, Experiment 1 .......................................................................................35
Figure 15. Examples of items used in Experiment 2 ........................................................38 Figure 15. Examples of items used in Experiment 2 ........................................................38
Figure 16. Object (old/new) decision data, Experiment 2 .................................................39 Figure 16. Object (old/new) decision data, Experiment 2 .................................................39
Figure 17. Feature decision data, Experiment 2...............................................................40 Figure 17. Feature decision data, Experiment 2...............................................................40
Figure 18. ERPs, object decision, Experiment 2, Colour group........................................41 Figure 18. ERPs, object decision, Experiment 2, Colour group........................................41
Figure 19. ERPs, object decision, Experiment 2, Context group ......................................42 Figure 19. ERPs, object decision, Experiment 2, Context group ......................................42
Figure 20. Topographic ERP maps..................................................................................43 Figure 20. Topographic ERP maps..................................................................................43
Figure 21. Mean ERP voltages, object decision, Experiment 2........................................44 Figure 21. Mean ERP voltages, object decision, Experiment 2........................................44
Figure 22. Topographic CSD maps, object decision, Experiment 2..................................47 Figure 22. Topographic CSD maps, object decision, Experiment 2..................................47
Figure 23. ERPs from frontopolar electrodes, object decision, Experiment 2 ...................49 Figure 23. ERPs from frontopolar electrodes, object decision, Experiment 2 ...................49
Figure 24. ERPs, feature decision, Experiment 2, Colour group ......................................50 Figure 24. ERPs, feature decision, Experiment 2, Colour group ......................................50
Figure 25. ERPs, feature decision, Experiment 2, Context group.....................................50 Figure 25. ERPs, feature decision, Experiment 2, Context group.....................................50
Figure 26. Recognition data, Experiment 3......................................................................54 Figure 26. Recognition data, Experiment 3......................................................................54
Figure 27. ERPs, Experiment 3 .......................................................................................55 Figure 27. ERPs, Experiment 3 .......................................................................................55
Figure 28. Topographic ERP maps, Experiment 3 ...........................................................57 Figure 28. Topographic ERP maps, Experiment 3 ...........................................................57
Figure 29. Topographic CSD maps, Experiment 3...........................................................57 Figure 29. Topographic CSD maps, Experiment 3...........................................................57
Figure 30. Sample items used in Experiment 4................................................................68 Figure 30. Sample items used in Experiment 4................................................................68
Figure 31. Recognition memory performance, Experiment 4 ...........................................70 Figure 31. Recognition memory performance, Experiment 4 ...........................................70
Figure 32. RT data, Experiment 4....................................................................................70 Figure 32. RT data, Experiment 4....................................................................................70
Figure 33. ERP data, Experiment 4, Intrinsic condition ....................................................71 Figure 33. ERP data, Experiment 4, Intrinsic condition ....................................................71
Figure 34. ERP data, Experiment 4, Extrinsic condition...................................................72 Figure 34. ERP data, Experiment 4, Extrinsic condition...................................................72
VII VII Figure 35. ERP data, Experiment 4, Intrinsic condition, Standard group..........................74 Figure 35. ERP data, Experiment 4, Intrinsic condition, Standard group..........................74
Figure 36. ERP data, Experiment 4, Intrinsic condition, Inverse group.............................74 Figure 36. ERP data, Experiment 4, Intrinsic condition, Inverse group.............................74
Figure 37. ERP data, Experiment 4, Extrinsic condition, Standard group.........................75 Figure 37. ERP data, Experiment 4, Extrinsic condition, Standard group.........................75
Figure 38. ERP data, Experiment 4, Extrinsic condition, Inverse group ...........................75 Figure 38. ERP data, Experiment 4, Extrinsic condition, Inverse group ...........................75
Figure 39. RT data, Intrinsic & Extrinsic conditions, Standard & Inverse groups, Exp. 4 ..79 Figure 39. RT data, Intrinsic & Extrinsic conditions, Standard & Inverse groups, Exp. 4 ..79
Figure 40. Items and test conditions of Experiment 5.......................................................88 Figure 40. Items and test conditions of Experiment 5.......................................................88
Figure 41. Performance data, Experiment 5 ....................................................................90 Figure 41. Performance data, Experiment 5 ....................................................................90
Figure 42. RT data, Experiment 5....................................................................................90 Figure 42. RT data, Experiment 5....................................................................................90
Figure 43. ERP data, Experiment 5 .................................................................................91 Figure 43. ERP data, Experiment 5 .................................................................................91
Figure 44. Topographic ERP maps, Experiment 5 ...........................................................91 Figure 44. Topographic ERP maps, Experiment 5 ...........................................................91
Figure 45. Mean voltage amplitudes, frontal ROI, time window 1, Experiment 5..............93 Figure 45. Mean voltage amplitudes, frontal ROI, time window 1, Experiment 5..............93
Figure 46. ERP data, Experiment 5, right parieto-occipital ROI........................................96 Figure 46. ERP data, Experiment 5, right parieto-occipital ROI........................................96
Figure 47. Topographic ERP maps, Experiment 5 ...........................................................96 Figure 47. Topographic ERP maps, Experiment 5 ...........................................................96
Figure 48. Australian Estuarine (Saltwater) Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). ................133 Figure 48. Australian Estuarine (Saltwater) Crocodile (Crocodylus porosus). ................133
Figure 49. An unfamiliar face – familiarity reduced by hairstyle......................................134 Figure 49. An unfamiliar face – familiarity reduced by hairstyle......................................134
Figure 50. A familiar face...............................................................................................135 Figure 50. A familiar face...............................................................................................135

Table Index Table Index

Table 1. ANOVA Results, Time window 1, Experiment 2 .................................................45 Table 1. ANOVA Results, Time window 1, Experiment 2 .................................................45
Table 2. ANOVA Results, Time window 2, Experiment 2 .................................................46 Table 2. ANOVA Results, Time window 2, Experiment 2 .................................................46
Table 3. ANOVA Results, Time window 1, Experiment 3. ................................................56 Table 3. ANOVA Results, Time window 1, Experiment 3. ................................................56
Table 4. ANOVA Results, Time window 2, Experiment 3 .................................................56 Table 4. ANOVA Results, Time window 2, Experiment 3 .................................................56
Table 5. Planned comparisons, Time window 1, Experiment 4 ........................................72 Table 5. Planned comparisons, Time window 1, Experiment 4 ........................................72
Table 6. Planned comparisons, Standard/Inverse groups, Time window 1, Exp. 4. .........76 Table 6. Planned comparisons, Standard/Inverse groups, Time window 1, Exp. 4. .........76
Table 7. Planned comparisons, Standard/Inverse groups, Time window 2, Exp. 4 ..........77 Table 7. Planned comparisons, Standard/Inverse groups, Time window 2, Exp. 4 ..........77
Table 8. Planned comparisons, Time window 1, Experiment 5 ........................................94 Table 8. Planned comparisons, Time window 1, Experiment 5 ........................................94
Table 9. Planned comparisons, Time window 2, Experiment 5 ........................................95 Table 9. Planned comparisons, Time window 2, Experiment 5 ........................................95
Table 10. Planned comparisons, Time window 0a, Experiment 5. ...................................97 Table 10. Planned comparisons, Time window 0a, Experiment 5. ...................................97
Table 11. Planned comparisons, Time window 0b, Experiment 5 ....................................98 Table 11. Planned comparisons, Time window 0b, Experiment 5 ....................................98
Table 12. Planned comparisons, Time window 3, Experiment 5. .....................................99 Table 12. Planned comparisons, Time window 3, Experiment 5. .....................................99
VIII VIII 1 Introduction 1 Introduction
Aristotle was famous for knowing everything. He tgahut that the brain exists merely to cool the blood Aristotle was famous for knowing everything. He tgahut that the brain exists merely to cool the blood
and is not involved in the process of thinking. sT hisi true only of certain person(sW. ill Cuppy ) and is not involved in the process of thinking. sT hisi true only of certain person(sW. ill Cuppy )

We experience the world as consisting of coherent entities. Things we see We experience the world as consisting of coherent entities. Things we see
and interact with are physically separated in space, episodes we have experi- and interact with are physically separated in space, episodes we have experi-
enced and which we communicate with others are separated in time and/or enced and which we communicate with others are separated in time and/or
space, and we seldom face difficulties in these basic interactions with the world. space, and we seldom face difficulties in these basic interactions with the world.
Yet, this is actually not what the world is like. Our environment at any given point Yet, this is actually not what the world is like. Our environment at any given point
in time consists of dozens or hundreds of visual objects which are superimposed, in time consists of dozens or hundreds of visual objects which are superimposed,
and even basic speech is by no means physically univocal. Nevertheless, we and even basic speech is by no means physically univocal. Nevertheless, we
manage to find important notes on a chaotic desk (well, most of the times) and we manage to find important notes on a chaotic desk (well, most of the times) and we
can make conversation at the much cited cocktail party. If this is noteworthy, even can make conversation at the much cited cocktail party. If this is noteworthy, even
more impressive is the fact that we can represent and maintain structured and more impressive is the fact that we can represent and maintain structured and
perceptually rich information over time, and can more or less accurately recall perceptually rich information over time, and can more or less accurately recall
long-gone episodes and recognise people and objects we have seen only once long-gone episodes and recognise people and objects we have seen only once
before. Sometimes we even remember something without even knowing that we before. Sometimes we even remember something without even knowing that we
are remembering at all. are remembering at all.

To fully appreciate our ability to identify and remember objects, one needs To fully appreciate our ability to identify and remember objects, one needs
to consider processes of attention and feature binding in perception and memory. to consider processes of attention and feature binding in perception and memory.
A main question is how our cognitive system manages to create a meaningful and A main question is how our cognitive system manages to create a meaningful and
neatly structured experience from a "sensational mess" and especially, for the neatly structured experience from a "sensational mess" and especially, for the
purpose of the present thesis, how it preserves this structured experience. How purpose of the present thesis, how it preserves this structured experience. How
does the system separate an object or item from contextual information, and is does the system separate an object or item from contextual information, and is
item and context information represented differentially in memory? How can one item and context information represented differentially in memory? How can one
recognise an object or face encountered in the past and thereby retrieve and util- recognise an object or face encountered in the past and thereby retrieve and util-
ise both features of this "item" itself and – potentially but not necessarily – of the ise both features of this "item" itself and – potentially but not necessarily – of the
environmental context present at encoding? And actually, what is an item? What environmental context present at encoding? And actually, what is an item? What
is context? Before tackling these fundamental questions, let us first consider step is context? Before tackling these fundamental questions, let us first consider step
by step what happens if one - deliberately or not - encodes some information, by step what happens if one - deliberately or not - encodes some information,
stores it and at some time-point in the future reactivates it. stores it and at some time-point in the future reactivates it.

As Hubert Zimmer has proposed many years ago (Zimmer, 1988, 1993), As Hubert Zimmer has proposed many years ago (Zimmer, 1988, 1993),
and as studies from the field of neuroscience have shown, different features of and as studies from the field of neuroscience have shown, different features of
objects or events are processed by different domain-specific modules. For in- objects or events are processed by different domain-specific modules. For in-
1 1 stance, information about "what" an item is and information about "where" an item stance, information about "what" an item is and information about "where" an item
is are processed independently at some stage (Goodale & Humphrey, 1998; is are processed independently at some stage (Goodale & Humphrey, 1998;
Mecklinger & Pfeifer, 1996; Ungerleider & Haxby, 1994). The same holds true for Mecklinger & Pfeifer, 1996; Ungerleider & Haxby, 1994). The same holds true for
different perceptual object features, such as colour and shape (Corbetta & Miezin, different perceptual object features, such as colour and shape (Corbetta & Miezin,
1990; Livingstone & Hubel, 1988). Objects are therefore represented as distrib- 1990; Livingstone & Hubel, 1988). Objects are therefore represented as distrib-
uted entities in perception – and also in semantic knowledge (Kellenbach, Brett, & uted entities in perception – and also in semantic knowledge (Kellenbach, Brett, &
Patterson, 2001). In order to form a coherent representation, the single features of Patterson, 2001). In order to form a coherent representation, the single features of
an event are mutually bound together (see Figure 1), whereby some are more an event are mutually bound together (see Figure 1), whereby some are more
strongly interconnected than others, forming units or chunks. These units are the strongly interconnected than others, forming units or chunks. These units are the
origin of memory. origin of memory.


Figure 1. Illustration of the binding problem; figure adapted from Cer & O'Reilly (2006). Figure 1. Illustration of the binding problem; figure adapted from Cer & O'Reilly (2006).

Exactly what these units are and what binds them together is still uncertain. Exactly what these units are and what binds them together is still uncertain.
One important aspect for the constitution of a unit is probably the task processed One important aspect for the constitution of a unit is probably the task processed
during encoding. For instance, when learning a list of words, a word tends to be a during encoding. For instance, when learning a list of words, a word tends to be a
unit, when watching a movie a scene reflects a unit, and so on. As far as the bind- unit, when watching a movie a scene reflects a unit, and so on. As far as the bind-
ing mechanism is concerned, attention might be a crucial factor. Following Reinitz ing mechanism is concerned, attention might be a crucial factor. Following Reinitz
(2003), all features that are simultaneously attended to might become a chunk. (2003), all features that are simultaneously attended to might become a chunk.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), O'Craven, Downing, and Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), O'Craven, Downing, and
Kanwisher (1999) found that attending to one feature of an object enhances the Kanwisher (1999) found that attending to one feature of an object enhances the
neural representation not only of the attended feature, but also of other features of neural representation not only of the attended feature, but also of other features of
that object. They let subjects view stimuli consisting of transparent and superim- that object. They let subjects view stimuli consisting of transparent and superim-
posed images of a face and a building, with one of them moving (Figure 2). Sub- posed images of a face and a building, with one of them moving (Figure 2). Sub-
jects attended to the face, the building, or the movement. The magnetic reso- jects attended to the face, the building, or the movement. The magnetic reso-
nance signal of respective processing areas (fusiform area, parahippocampal nance signal of respective processing areas (fusiform area, parahippocampal
place area, and area MT/MST for processing of faces, buildings, and visual place area, and area MT/MST for processing of faces, buildings, and visual
movement, respectively) indicated that attending to the movement of a stimulus movement, respectively) indicated that attending to the movement of a stimulus
also led to increased activation in the area relevant for processing the identity of also led to increased activation in the area relevant for processing the identity of
2 2