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The Biological Basis of the Experience and Categorization of Colour

Zeki, S; Javier, A; Mylonas, D; (2020) The Biological Basis of the Experience and Categorization of Colour. European Journal of Neuroscience , 51 (2) pp. 670-680. 10.1111/ejn.14557.

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Abstract

We used the Land Colour Mondrian experiments in a Bayesian context to test the degree to which subjects vary in categorizing the colour of different patches, when each patch is made to reflect light of the identical wavelength‐energy composition. The brain uses a ratio‐taking mechanism to determine the ratio of light of every waveband reflected from a surface and from its surrounds. Our (Bayesian) hypothesis was that this ratio‐taking mechanism is similar in all humans and therefore leads to a constant categorization of colours that differs little between them. The similarly categorized colours are the initial priors, with initial hues attached to them. Twenty subjects of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, for all but one of whom English was not the primary language, viewed 8 patches of different colour in two Mondrian displays; each patch, when viewed, was made to reflect identical ratios of long‐, middle‐ and short‐ wave light. Subjects were asked to match the colour of the viewed patch with that of the Munsell chip coming closest in colour to that of the viewed patch, without using language. In terms of hue, there was less variability in matching warm hues than cool ones. In terms of colour categorization, there was little variability overall. We take the lack of significant variability between subjects in the matches made as a pointer to similar computational mechanisms being employed in different subjects to perceive colours, thus permitting them to assume that their categorization of colours has universal agreement and assent.

Type: Article
Title: The Biological Basis of the Experience and Categorization of Colour
DOI: 10.1111/ejn.14557
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.14557
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: colour vision, Bayesian operations, constant categorization
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences > Cell and Developmental Biology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10080397
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