Rapid visual grouping and figure-ground processing using temporally structured displays.
Cheadle S., Usher M., Müller HJ.
We examine the time course of visual grouping and figure-ground processing. Figure (contour) and ground (random-texture) elements were flickered with different phases (i.e., contour and background are alternated), requiring the observer to group information within a pre-specified time window. It was found this grouping has a high temporal resolution: less than 20ms for smooth contours, and less than 50ms for line conjunctions with sharp angles. Furthermore, the grouping process takes place without an explicit knowledge of the phase of the elements, and it requires a cumulative build-up of information. The results are discussed in relation to the neural mechanism for visual grouping and figure-ground segregation.