A recent study published in the journal Current Biology suggests that seasons influence how we perceive colors. More specifically the way in which our eyes process the color unique yellow changes over seasons.
Unique yellow is one of the most stable colors across populations. This means that in spite of the fact that people’s eyes might be different the majority of people agree upon how unique yellow looks like. Besides blue there are three other unique colors: blue, green and red. What makes them “unique” is the fact that they are not mixed with other colors. A group of researchers from the University of York wanted to find out what makes unique yellow so stable and what could affect this hue.
The study revealed that vision adapts to the changes which occur in the environment. For example in summer our vision takes into account more of the green color because there is a lot of foliage than usual. So our vision compensates for the change and this affects the way in which we perceive yellow.
The study involved 67 men and women. The participants were placed in darkened rooms in January and June. Afterwards they were enabled to adjust to the light and finally they were required to use a colorimeter in order to adjust a dial forwards and backwards until they considered that they had reached the color unique yellow.
The lead author of the study Lauren Welbourne explained that the research offers insight into the complexity of the visual system being an example of how humans adapt to their surroundings constantly. Wwelbourne also added:
This is the first time natural changes in the environment have been shown to affect our perception of color. For me as a vision scientist it is fascinating as it is telling us more about how visual processing works.”
Even though this study does not offer a cure or treatment for some disease Welbourne believes that the more scientists learn about how vision and color is processed the better they can understand how humans perceive the world. She pointed out that this process is useful because humans can adjust to the huge seasonal changes which occur in the environmental color and still be able to see and distinguish color accurately.
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