The Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Conscious Object Perception

The human visual system is continuously confronted with dynamic visual input. This means that the system must parse this ongoing input into discrete objects to transform it into the coherent and stable visual scene that we consciously perceive. For example, when walking down a crowded street, there are a large number of people, who are moving, and can disappear temporarily behind other objects. From this, the system needs to infer what stimulation belongs to a continuing object over time (e.g., the same person, despite changes in their appearance because of viewpoint variation and location), versus what belongs to distinct objects (e.g., two different people who might occupy the same location between successive glances).

Therefore, the visual system regularly has to draw an inference of whether input from a given location belongs to a continuous object identity through time (object continuity), versus two (or more) separate objects (object individuation). Such inferences occur before conscious perception, but ultimately determine our subjective experience of the world. We are interested in the mechanisms that underlie and influence inferences of object continuity versus object individuation