Seeing slow and seeing fast: Two limits on perception

11 July 2011

Video cameras have a single temporal limit set by the frame rate. The human visual system has multiple temporal limits set by its various constituent mechanisms. These limits appear to form two groups. A fast group comprises specialized mechanisms for extracting perceptual qualities such as motion direction, depth, and edges. The second group, with coarse temporal resolution, includes judgments of the pairing of color and motion, the joint identification of arbitrary spatially separated features, the recognition of words, and high-level motion. These temporally coarse percepts may all be mediated by high-level processes. Working at very different timescales, the two groups of mechanisms collaborate to create our unified visual experience.