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  • Cited by 9
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: October 2010

28 - Object updating: a force for perceptual continuity and scene stability in human vision

from Part V - Space–time and awareness



How does the visual system provide us with the perception of a continuous and stable world in the face of the spatial–temporal chaos that characterizes its input? In this chapter we summarize several programs of research that all point to a solution we refer to as object updating. We use this phrase because perceptual continuity seems to occur at an object level (as opposed to an image level or a higher conceptual level) and because our research suggests that the visual system makes a sharp distinction between the formation of new object representations versus the updating of existing object representations. We summarize the research that led us to this view in the areas of masking by object substitution, the flash-lag illusion, response priming, and an illusion of perceptual asynchrony.


Biological vision is the marvelous ability of an organism to be informed about its surroundings at a distance and with a high degree of spatial and temporal resolution. This ability allows us to know where things are, what shape and color they are, and equally importantly, when they are there, so that we may interact with them appropriately. Yet, contrary to many people's implicit understanding of how biological vision is accomplished, it is not a process by which light, reflected from surfaces in the three-dimensional world, is recorded faithfully by the brain in order to reconstruct the nature of the surfaces that gave rise to the recorded pattern of light.

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