The uses of colour vision: behavioural and physiological distinctiveness of colour stimuli

Derrington, Andrew M. and Parker, Amanda and Barraclough, Nick E. and Easton, Alexander and Goodson, G.R. and Parker, Kris S. and Tinsley, Chris J. and Webb, Ben S. (2002) The uses of colour vision: behavioural and physiological distinctiveness of colour stimuli. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 357 (1424). pp. 975-985. ISSN 0962-8436. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Colour and greyscale (black and white) pictures look different to us, but it is not clear whether the difference in appearance is a consequence of the way our visual system uses colour signals or a by-product of our experience. In principle, colour images are qualitatively different from greyscale images because they make it possible to use different processing strategies. Colour signals provide important cues for segmenting the image into areas that represent different objects and for linking together areas that represent the same object. If this property of colour signals is exploited in visual processing we would expect colour stimuli to look different, as a class, from greyscale stimuli. We would also expect that adding colour signals to greyscale signals should change the way that those signals are processed. We have investigated these questions in behavioural and in physiological experiments. We find that male marmosets (all of which are dichromats) rapidly learn to distinguish between colour and greyscale copies of the same images. The discrimination transfers to new image pairs, to new colours and to image pairs in which the colour and greyscale images are spatially different. We find that, in a proportion of neurons recorded in the marmoset visual cortex, colour-shifts in opposite directions produce similar enhancements of the response to a luminance stimulus. We conclude that colour is, both behaviourally and physiologically, a distinctive property of images.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: colour vision; image segmentation; object detection; figure-ground; monkey; vision
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Ros Beeching
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2008 11:37
Last Modified: 07 May 2014 10:28
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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