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The temporal order of binding visual attributes


Bartels,  A
Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Bartels, A. (2006). The temporal order of binding visual attributes. Vision Research, 46(14), 2280-2286. doi:doi:10.1016/j.visres.2005.11.017.

The brain processes distinct attributes such as colour and motion in anatomically largely segregated systems. Moreover, these two attributes are perceived with different latencies. Here, we show that the time required to bind these two attributes differs too. In psychophysical experiments, we determined minimal presentation times required to perceptually pair spatially separate pairs of stimuli consisting of colour or motion. Binding two colours required longer presentation times than binding the directions of two moving stimuli. Cross-attribute binding between colour and motion took longer than within-attribute binding. This was so even when the relative perceptual delay between colour and motion was compensated for, which accelerated colour-motion binding. Moreover, stimuli could be discriminated but not bound at fast presentation rates. Our results thus show that spatial binding is an attribute-specific process and faster within the same than across different attributes. Furthermore, the time required to b ind attributes is independent of that required to process them, since colour is perceived before motion but requires longer time for binding. Finally, our results suggest that binding acts on attribute-specific neural representations of the stimuli at a late, perceptually explicit stage. These results lead us to conclude that spatial binding is separate from, and subsequent to, stimulus processing and that it is an attribute-dependent and post-conscious process.