A group of vision scientists were fascinated to learn that we perceive the color yellow differently across seasons. After a series of experiments, they found that our visual system acts just like tweaking the color balance on our TVs.
Human eyes perceive four unique colors, red, yellow, blue and green, but the color most people agree on what it looks like is yellow. So, scientists took this particular color and tried to see whether there are any changes in perception from one season to another.
During their experiments, researchers tested green and yellow, but they showed no interested in red and blue since these two colors are generally perceived differently across populations.
“What we are finding is that between seasons our vision adapts to changes in environment,”
Lauren Welbourne, senior author of the paper noted.
The research team explained that in summer, when our vision is flooded with a lot of green from leaves, our eyes compensate for the changes and render yellow in a greenish hue. In winter, when there is a lot of white and dull grey everywhere, yellow is rendered in a more reddish tint, researchers found.
Scientists noted that the color doesn’t change in reality. Only our perception of it is altered by the surrounding environment. The group explained that the shift in our perception is caused by wavelengths.
During summertime, shorter wavelengths account for the greenish hue of yellow, while during wintertime longer wavelengths are responsible for the reddish hue of the primary color.
Ms. Welbourne argued that the excess green in summer forces our M cones in the eyes to alter the settings of the visual channel which helps us perceive the yellow color.
The study involved nearly 70 participants from January through June, 2015.
Volunteers were put in a dark room and asked to adjust a machine dubbed colorimeter until they perceived a version of yellow that seems purest to them. After lots of measurements, the research team found that there were significant variations in the way participants reported seeing the color in summer and winter.
Study authors suggested that their study is the first to find a link between seasonal natural changes in the environment and human perception of a color. Nevertheless, researchers acknowledged that the discovery wouldn’t help medical research find a major breakthrough in curing a disease, but the findings may eventually help us understand how we see the world.
The study was published this week in the journal Current Biology.
Image Source: Designs Next
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