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Indexed under : Psychology / General

Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of the Unknown

Colour perception

Although it has been very well established that human eyes have three* [see note below] different types of retinal cells (cone cells) which respond differently to coloured light (i.e. different wavelengths) - it's also known that colour vision is not exclusively determined and processed in the retina. The brain is also involved in colour processing.

It is now abundantly clear that colors are not determined in the retina alone, but there are additional processes in the brain shaping the relationship between stimulus and perceptual experience, the process details and location in the brain often as yet unknown.“ Source :

Damage to various parts of the brain can lead to complete colour blindness, even though the retina is fully functional. See: Cerebral achromatopsia at Wikipedia.

Although many brain discrete areas have been implicated, the neural processing which leads to colour vision in currently unknown.

Despite all the debate about where in the brain color constancy is achieved, the physiological mechanisms of how we achieve color constancy are little understood.
Source :The Visual Neurosciences MIT books

* Note: Many animals have more that three types of colour receptor cell, giving them the ability to see a greater colour range than humans. Recent research is suggesting the some humans may have remnants of a fourth type of cell. So-called 'Tetrachromacy.'

In 2010, visual tests on one US patient found the presence of extra cone cells, along with significantly enhanced colour vision in some colour ranges - but less than normal in others. See : Journal of Vision Open AccessVol.10, 12.

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