Abstract

If neural spike trains carry information in the frequency and timing of the spikes, then neural interactions—such as oscillatory synchronization—that alter spike frequency and timing can alter the encoded information. Using coupled oscillator theory, we show that synchronization-based processing can be used to integrate sensory information, resulting in new second-order sensory percepts signaled by the compromise frequency of the coupled system. If the signals to be coupled are nonlinearly compressed, the coupled system behaves as if it signals the product or ratio of the uncoupled signals, e.g., chromatic brightness can be signaled by the compromise frequency of coupled neurons responding to hue and luminance, and chromatic saturation can be signaled by the coupled frequency of neurons responding to hue and brightness, with a power- (Stevens’s) law scaling like that observed psychophysically. These emergent properties of coupled sensory systems are intriguing because multiplicative processing and power-law scaling are fundamental aspects of sensory processing.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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