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We all remember the acronym ROYGBIV to help us remember the colors of the rainbow..........red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. We are all very clear that there are seven colors in our spectrum on the rainbow, but what we may not be very clear on is the interpretation of those colors on an individual basis.

What gives us the ability to perceive color? Is it the eye or is it the brain? What if the same color looks like two different colors to two different people? Science is now explaining this common phenomena. It is caused from the brain trying to tries to determine the color in certain aspects of daylight sun and light reflecting off certain objects.

There have also been known instances when patients who receive injections in the retina of the eye for the treatment of macular degeneration, experience a spectrum of colors that is not explainable to them by the seven colors of the rainbow. There seems to be a plethora of colors they experience that have been previously undetected.

Furthermore, a color blindness factor can play a role in perceiving colors. A certain percentage of people have an inherited condition of color blindness. Three common types of color blindness include protan (red), duetan (green), and tritan (blue). Color blind individuals have different color perceptions than than a person with normal spectrum color vision.

A very notable event that highlights the difference in our perception of colors showed up when an English dress designer posted a picture online that began a craze. Some people saw it as a gold and white dress, while other people saw it as a blue and black dress. There was quite a dispute until an optometrist gave an explanation:

Color Constancy. This occurs when colors are viewed in a different light or with a shadow causing the brain to interpret it as one color when it is, in reality, another color. The color is determined by the perception of the one viewing it.

An article posted by website “WIRED.COM” explains the color constancy this way:

"The brain tries to interpolate a kind of color context for the image, and then spits out an answer for the color of the dress. When context varies, so will people’s visual perception."

More information comes from an article in USA Today:

“Color is our perception — our interpretation of the light that's in the world," says Arthur Shapiro, a professor at American University who specializes in visual perception.

"Individual wavelengths don't have color, it's how our brains interpret the wavelengths that create color," he says. In the case of the dress, some of us interpret those wavelengths to be blue and black, and others interpret the wavelengths as white and gold.

The physiological explanation can be described through the function of rods and cones.

The cones are color sensitive mainly to red, green and blue. The rods are sensitive to black and white, and in low or dim light, our rods help us see contrast. Furthermore, in bright light, our cones help us see color: the retina sends messages from rods and cones to our brain.

So instead of arguing with another over the color of a dress, argue instead over your perception of the color of the dress...after all, perception is greater than reality in some cases. Through our perceptions, we color our world into our own reality whether we are colorblind or not.

REFERENCES

www.wired.com; Adam Rogers 02/26/2015

www.usatoday.com; Lori Grisham 02/26/2015

 

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