The human brain analyzes a visual object first by basic feature detectors. On the objects way to a conscious percept, these features are integrated in subsequent stages of the visual hierarchy. The time course of this feature integration is largely unknown. To shed light on the temporal dynamics of feature integration, we applied transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to a feature fusion paradigm. In feature fusion, two stimuli which differ in one feature are presented in rapid succession such that they are not perceived individually but as one single stimulus only. The fused percept is an integration of the features of both stimuli. Here, we show that TMS can modulate this integration for a surprisingly long period of time, even though the individual stimuli themselves are not consciously perceived. Hence, our results reveal a long-lasting integration process of unconscious feature traces.
Scharnowski, F., Rüter, J., Jolij, J., Hermens, F., Kammer, T., & Herzog, M. H. (2009). Long-lasting modulation of feature integration by transcranial magnetic stimulation. Journal of Vision, 9(6), . https://doi.org/10.1167/9.6.1