When processing sequences of rapidly varying stimuli, the visual system must satisfy two conflicting requirements. To maintain perceptual continuity, sequential stimuli must be integrated into a single, unified percept. On the other hand, to detect rapid changes, sequential stimuli must be segregated from each other. We propose that these conflicting demands are reconciled by a process that codes the temporal relationship between contiguous stimuli: Stimuli that are coded as coextensive are integrated and those that are coded as disjoint are segregated. This approach represents a conceptual departure from the more traditional “intrinsic persistence” view of temporal integration. The approach provides a parsimonious account of the results of two temporal-integration tasks in which the durations of the leading and trailing displays were varied over a broad range. The data were accurately fit by a quantitative model in which temporal codes were determined by the correlation in time between the visual responses to the leading and trailing displays. © 1994 Academic Press, Inc.
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