Foundations Of Cognitive Science

Visual Index

In Pylyshyn’s (2003, 2007) theory of seeing and visualization, entities have to be individuated and indexed in order to permit later processing.  For instance, before inside (x,y) can be computed, the two entities (x and y) have to be individuated and selected – inside makes no sense to compute without their specification.  “What the visual system needs is a way to refer to individual elements qua token individuals (Pylyshyn, 2003, p. 207).  In Pylyshyn’s theory FINSTs – which have their own definition elsewhere in this dictionary – serve the role of visual indices.


  1. Pylyshyn, Z. W. (2003). Seeing and Visualizing: It's Not What You Think. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
  2. Pylyshyn, Z. W. (2007). Things and Places: How The Mind Connects With The World. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

(Added March 2011)