Foundations Of Cognitive Science

Trigger Feature

It is possible to describe a neuron as being sensitive to a trigger feature, a specific pattern which, when detected, produces maximum activity in the cell.  One could argue that the role of a neuron is to detect a trigger feature.  The neuron doctrine for perceptual psychology argued for an approach that mapped out the trigger features detected by visual neurons in order to derive a complete, biological, perceptual theory (Barlow, 1972, 1995).


  1. Barlow, H. B. (1972). Single units and sensation:  A neuron doctrine for perceptual psychology? Perception, 1, 371-394.
  2. Barlow, H. B. (1995). The neuron doctrine in perception. In M. S. Gazzaniga (Ed.), The Cognitive Neurosciences (pp. 415-435). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

(Added April 2011)