In the absence of a priori knowledge about regions of interest, does dysfunctional behavior in the subband pyramid lead to the emergence of a region-based approach to image transmission as complexity grows? A model of image transmission that links simplification of information and time to produce a transmission plan to the bit-rate cost of the transmission, and where the decoded output is affected negatively by those factors that reduce the quality of the transmission plan and delay its preparation, answers the question in two steps. First, we characterize the variables (degrees of simplification and subordination) through which we expect to control, at any truncation time, the optimum transmission system. We observe that transform-domain coefficients exhibit self-seeking behavior if errors that result from the transmission plan increase as the distance of the coefficient from the top of the hierarchy grows. Then we use the degree of detail that arrives at the central control in any system of progressive transmission to derive conditions under which the likelihood of emergence of a region-based approach to progressive transmission grows with the increase of complexity of the picture. We find that the presence of self-seeking coefficients leads to a higher likelihood of emergence of a region-based approach as complexity rises. On a data set composed of 100 standard gray-scale test images, 26% of the test images exhibit self-seeking behavior, from very low bit rates, using the state of the art codec based on set partitioning in hierarchical trees.