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It has been suggested that long-range lateral connections in the cortex play a contextual role in that they modulate the gain of the response to primary receptive field input. In the first part of this paper I show that a network with a set of such pre-wired connections has a short-term dynamics that enhances and stabilizes coherent information defined across multiple, non-overlapping receptive fields. In the second part, I suggest a simple Hebbian rule that can develop the required pattern of synaptic strengths and describe two simulations where the networks discover information that is defined only by its coherence across receptive fields.