The perception of persisting visual objects is mediated by transient intermediate representations, object files, that are instantiated in response to some, but not all, visual trajectories. The standard object file concept does not, however, provide a mechanism sufficient to account for all experimental data on visual object persistence, object tracking, and the ability to perceive spatially disconnected stimuli as continuously existing objects. Based on relevant anatomical, functional, and developmental data, a functional model is constructed that bases visual object individuation on the recognition of temporal sequences of apparent center-of-mass positions that are specifically identified as trajectories by dedicated "trajectory recognition networks" downstream of the medial-temporal motion-detection area. This model is shown to account for a wide range of data, and to generate a variety of testable predictions. Individual differences in the recognition, abstraction, and encoding of trajectory information are expected to generate distinct object persistence judgments and object recognition abilities. Dominance of trajectory information over feature information in stored object tokens during early infancy, in particular, is expected to disrupt the ability to re-identify human and other individuals across perceptual episodes, and lead to developmental outcomes with characteristics of autism spectrum disorders.
Fields, C. (2011). Trajectory recognition as the basis for object individuation: A functional model of object file instantiation and object-token encoding. Frontiers in Psychology, 2(MAR). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00049