Time Course of Perceptual Grouping by Color

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Does perceptual grouping operate early or late in visual processing? One position is that the elements in perceptual layouts are grouped early in vision, by properties of the retinal image, before perceptual constancies have been determined. A second position is that perceptual grouping operates on a postconstancy representation, one that is available only after stereoscopic depth perception, lightness constancy, and amodal completion have occurred. The present experiments indicate that grouping can operate on both a precon-stancy representation and a postconstancy representation. Perceptual grouping was based on retinal color similarity at short exposure durations and based on surface color similarity at long durations. These results permit an integration of the preconstancy and postconstancy positions with regard to grouping by color.

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Psychological Science, v. 14, issue 1, p. 26-30