Boring's formulation: A scheme for identifying functional neuron groups in a sensory system Article

cited authors

  • Burgess, PR; Horch, KW; Tuckett, RP

fiu authors


  • In 1935 Edwin Boring proposed that each attribute of sensation reflects the activity of a different neural circuit. If this idea is valid, it could facilitate both psychophysical and neurophysiological research on sensory system. We think it likely that Boring's formulation is correct for three reasons: Different sensory attributes reflect conscious information about different parameters of a stimulus. To be measured by any device, each of these parameters must be individually computed. Different neural circuits would appear to be necessary for the nervous system to carry out these different computations. Perceived information about different sensory attributes can be made to diverge by appropriate manipulations of the stimuli. If there is a rigorous relationship between conscious sensory experience and neural activity, such a divergence implies that different sensory attributes are served by different neural circuits. Accurate information about a sensory attribute requires that a human observer's attention be focused on that attribute. Changes in direction of attention are thought to involve a process of switching from one neural circuit to another, and provide another way to cause perceived information about different sensory attributes to diverge.

publication date

  • December 1, 1983

start page

  • 2521

end page

  • 2527


  • 42


  • 9