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Trends Cogn Sci. 2003 May;7(5):207-213.

Is perception discrete or continuous?

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CNRS, Centre de Recherche Cerveau et Cognition, 31062, Toulouse, France


How does conscious perception evolve following stimulus presentation? The idea that perception relies on discrete processing epochs has been often considered, but never widely accepted. The alternative, a continuous translation of the external world into explicit perception, although more intuitive and subjectively appealing, cannot satisfactorily account for a large body of psychophysical data. Cortical and thalamocortical oscillations in different frequency bands could provide a neuronal basis for such discrete processes, but are rarely analyzed in this context. This article reconciles the unduly abandoned topic of discrete perception with current views and advances in neuroscience.

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