The temporal dynamics of how the brain structures natural scenes

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


Individuals organize the evolving stream of events in their environment by partitioning it into discrete units. Event segmentation theory (EST) provides a cognitive explanation for the process of this partitioning. Critically, the underlying time-resolved neural mechanisms are not understood, and thus a central conceptual aspect of how humans implement this central ability is missing. To gain better insight into the fundamental temporal dynamics of event segmentation, EEG oscillatory activity was measured while participants watched a narrative video and partitioned the movie into meaningful segments. Using EEG beamforming methods, we show that theta, alpha, and beta band activity in frontal, parietal, and occipital areas, as well as their interactions, reflect critical elements of the event segmentation process established by EST. In sum, we see a mechanistic temporal chain of processes that provides the neurophysiological basis for how the brain partitions and structures continuously evolving scenes and points to an integrated system that organizes the various subprocesses of event segmentation. This study thus integrates neurophysiology and cognitive theory to better understand how the human brain operates in rather variable and unpredictable situations. Therefore, it represents an important step toward studying neurophysiological dynamics in ecologically valid and naturalistic settings and, in doing so, addresses a critical gap in knowledge regarding the temporal dynamics of how the brain structures natural scenes.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-39
Number of pages14
Early online date1 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024

External IDs

ORCID /0000-0002-7155-1067/work/147140377
ORCID /0000-0003-4731-5125/work/147140636
ORCID /0000-0002-2989-9561/work/147142590
ORCID /0000-0003-3136-3296/work/147673530
Scopus 85176796287
Mendeley 99a7e599-49c3-3515-818c-7ec9202a24bf


Research priority areas of TU Dresden

DFG Classification of Subject Areas according to Review Boards


  • Beamforming, Event representation, Event segmentation, Frequency bands