Brightness and darkness as perceptual dimensions.

Laboratory of Experimental Ophthalmology & BCN NeuroImaging Centre, School of Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciences, University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.
PLoS Computational Biology (Impact Factor: 4.87). 11/2007; 3(10):e179. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.0030179
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A common-sense assumption concerning visual perception states that brightness and darkness cannot coexist at a given spatial location. One corollary of this assumption is that achromatic colors, or perceived grey shades, are contained in a one-dimensional (1-D) space varying from bright to dark. The results of many previous psychophysical studies suggest, by contrast, that achromatic colors are represented as points in a color space composed of two or more perceptual dimensions. The nature of these perceptual dimensions, however, presently remains unclear. Here we provide direct evidence that brightness and darkness form the dimensions of a two-dimensional (2-D) achromatic color space. This color space may play a role in the representation of object surfaces viewed against natural backgrounds, which simultaneously induce both brightness and darkness signals. Our 2-D model generalizes to the chromatic dimensions of color perception, indicating that redness and greenness (blueness and yellowness) also form perceptual dimensions. Collectively, these findings suggest that human color space is composed of six dimensions, rather than the conventional three.

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