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PLoS Biol. 2016 Apr 12;14(4):e1002433. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1002433. eCollection 2016 Apr.

Time Slices: What Is the Duration of a Percept?

Author information

1
Laboratory of Psychophysics, Brain Mind Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland.
2
Department of Psychiatry, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany.
3
Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Psychiatric Hospital, University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.
4
Neuroscience Center Zürich, University of Zürich and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich, Switzerland.
5
Zürich Center for Integrative Human Physiology (ZIHP), University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.

Abstract

We experience the world as a seamless stream of percepts. However, intriguing illusions and recent experiments suggest that the world is not continuously translated into conscious perception. Instead, perception seems to operate in a discrete manner, just like movies appear continuous although they consist of discrete images. To explain how the temporal resolution of human vision can be fast compared to sluggish conscious perception, we propose a novel conceptual framework in which features of objects, such as their color, are quasi-continuously and unconsciously analyzed with high temporal resolution. Like other features, temporal features, such as duration, are coded as quantitative labels. When unconscious processing is "completed," all features are simultaneously rendered conscious at discrete moments in time, sometimes even hundreds of milliseconds after stimuli were presented.

PMID:
27070777
PMCID:
PMC4829156
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pbio.1002433
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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