Fast temporal event integration in the visual domain demonstrated by event-related potentials


  • The authors thank Vincent Di Lollo for helpful discussion of the particularities of the experimental paradigm and Asher Cohen and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. A.S. and E.G.A. were supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) as part of the excellence cluster “Cognition for Technical Systems” (CoTeSys), project #148.

Address reprint requests to: Elkan Akyürek, Department of Psychology, Experimental Psychology, University of Groningen, Grote Kruisstraat 2/1, 9712 TS Groningen, The Netherlands. Email:


Four experiments are reported that investigated visual event integration by using a variant of the missing element paradigm. Good performance on this task depends on whether two brief successive stimulus displays are perceived as (or integrated into) one single event. We replicated the classic finding of greater accuracy with shorter duration of the first stimulus and ruled out an attention-related account thereof. In a subsequent electrophysiological experiment we found that successful event integration increased the amplitude of the N1, N2, and late P3 components of the event-related potential and decreased early P3 amplitude. No effect on the P1 was observed. The results provided evidence for an early onset of event integration in time and demonstrated the existence of electrophysiological markers of episodic integration. The implications of these results are related to studies on feature-specific integration and early attentional processes.