Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Neural mechanism for the magical number 4: Competitive interactions and nonlinear oscillation

Marius Usher a1, Jonathan D. Cohen a2, Henk Haarmann a3 and David Horn a4
a1 School of Psychology, Birkbeck College, University of London, London WCJE 7HX, United Kingdom [email protected]
a2 Department of Psychology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544 [email protected]
a3 Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742 [email protected]
a4 Department of Physics, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel [email protected]


The aim of our commentary is to strengthen Cowan's proposal for an inherent capacity limitation in STM by suggesting a neurobiological mechanism based on competitive networks and nonlinear oscillations that avoids some of the shortcomings of the scheme discussed in the target article (Lisman & Idiart 1995).