Color has different effects on humans. For instance, it has the power to stimulate emotions, influence our buying decisions, and help us in remembering things.
However, according to the research, objects do not necessarily have color. They will reflect visible light wavelengths that will then be interpreted by our brain as shades of colors. In this article, we will learn how the brain and eyes interpret color.
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A Complete Guide on How the Brain and Eyes Interpret Color
Based on the study, the color spectrum visible to the human eye will range from red light to UV light.
The human eye is so wonderful that it can perceive about 10 million different colors. Once the light hits a particular object, for instance, an orange, the orange will absorb a portion of the light and will reflect the remaining light.
The light that has been reflected will enter our eye that we will then perceive as the color of the orange.
How Our Eye is Interpreting Colors
The human eye is like a camera. However, it comes with a self-cleaning and auto-focusing lens.
The way it processes images can be comparable to a computer with a highly-advanced and complex operating system.
As we mentioned, the light that is refracted from the object will first enter our cornea. It will then move to the pupil, which is generally controlled by our iris.
The bounced light will once again be refracted by our lens that creates a reverse image of the object on our retina.
There, the photoreceptors, known as cones and rods that are highly sensitive to light, will absorb the pigment of the refracted wavelength of light.
It will then be transformed into electrochemical signals. The neural circuits of our retina will process it and will then be delivered to the brain.
Around 6 million cones found in our retina and each of them are very sensitive to different levels of brightness.
Cones can be separated into three different categories; the group sensitive to long, medium, and short light wavelengths.
Cones have the power to adapt to a range of illumination levels and varying colors. It allows us to see the objects in fine details. However, these cones may not function well on low light.
The 125 million rods located in the retina will be used on dim light. They are monochromatic, and they can only perceive white and black color.
Rods will not allow us to see clearly when we are looking in a straight direction; it is mostly used as our peripheral vision at night.
How Eye Calculates Color
The cones are just a tiny part of the process of how our eye perceives different colors. The neurons found in our retina called Ganglion will receive the photoreceptor signals through different cells connected to the rods and cones.
They will then deliver this to our brain to be interpreted. Ganglions are the calculator in this process. They will subtract and add the signals sent by the cones.
For instance, they will calculate the amount of wavelength in our middle and long cones and will determine how many red or green is found in that object. It also determines the level of brightness.
Anomalies in Our Color Vision
Some people may suffer from a condition known as color blindness. This anomaly can happen when the cone is not functioning properly.
In some instances, cones can be non-functional, absent, or other times it can interpret the object in a different color.
Perhaps the most common type of color blindness is the inability to perceive red and green colors. Others will have color blindness of blue and yellow.
Based on the statistics, men are more likely to experience this than women. Up to now, scientists are still in pursuit to develop a cure for this condition.
Normally, people will have three types of cones; however, researchers uncovered that about 12% of the female population have four cones.
According to them, these individuals have a higher potential for perceiving colors. Different species of birds and insects also have four cones.
It enables them to see wavelengths of ultraviolet that are not typically visible to the human eye. There are other animals, like a dog, who have a fewer number of cones.
How the Brain is Processing Colors
Color vision is referred to as the ability of the person to distinguish a range of electromagnetic radiation and wavelengths.
It highly depends upon the perception mechanism of our brain, wherein the light will be treated as different wavelengths that come with a variety of visual stimuli.
Colors are basically synthetic products of our brain that helps us distinguish the different wavelengths of light.
The rods give us the ability to detect the intensity of the light and help our brain to develop the image of our surroundings. Without this, the red and green will look the same, just like in a black and white photo.
Animals that have limited ability to perceive the different intensity and wavelength of the color will have trouble in determining which fruit is ripe until they tasted it.
According to the experts, our ancestors have developed this ability to support us in determining which food is edible and which may contain poison. This ability has helped us survive in this competitive world.
Theoretically, colors are merely illusions formed by our brain. It is still a mystery whether animals see colors the same thing as human do.
With collective evolutionary history, some vertebrates may see the colors the same way we see them.
The Science of Colors
While our ancestors may have developed the ability to see the colors to help them in hunting foods, there are still different ways of how proper interpretation of colors will help us—for instance, determining the right color of wires when diffusing the bomb.
Traffic lights have become a vital part of urbanization. Green will change into a red light to tell us to stop.
Even some social games on your smartphone are based on color matching. Our mind will also interpret colors as something beautiful.
Most of us will spend a lot of time admiring the beautiful tone of the sunset. We will also be impressed on the firework display. These are some of the sensations that colors may produce.
The science concept behind color is really exciting. Just knowing that our brain is the organ that actually ‘see’ this color is surprising.
The signals needed to interpret the color vision will come to our eyes, but our brain will be making sense out of it.
It allows you to see that the apple is red and the sea is blue. Eyes are creating the color code, but these codes will only be understood after successful decoding by the visual cortex.
The different parts of our visual cortex must work in unison to interpret the color correctly.
The Science of Light
Since the intensity and wavelength of light also plays an essential part of how our brain and eyes interpret color, it is also vital that we understand the concept behind this.
Basically, the light that we see is part of the electromagnetic spectrum. It includes UV radiation, radio waves, microwaves, gamma rays, and X-Rays.
You can think of it as a group of waves that are moving fluidly through space. The distance between these waves is known as wavelength.
The wavelength of the radio wave is about the size of the football field; on the contrary, the wavelength of microwave is only about the size of an average ant.
Most of the light sources in your surrounding will release a myriad of waves with varying wavelengths. A perfect example of this would be sunlight.
It is composed of all the wavelengths that you can see. Experts refer to this as a spectrum.
Once you pass this spectrum into a prism, you will see how it will split into a range of wavelength.
Refracting that wavelength into a piece of paper will enable you to see an entire collection of colors.
Those that belong in the shorter wavelength will appear to be bluish, while those in the longer wavelength will have a richer shade of red.
The rainbows that you will see after the rain is also made using this concept. The droplets of water will serve as a prism that will divide it into different wavelengths.
Since the day that we’ve been born, we already know how to categorize different colors. The way we perceive colors can change over time.
Language, experience and culture can affect how the colors are influencing our emotions. A color that you usually think was relaxing can eventually give you a troubling and disturbing feeling.
Although we know that our eyes and brain can perceive different colors, the way we communicate with them can be comprehended by learning how the brain and eyes interpret color.
Objects do not necessarily have that color themselves; it is only when the light will hit them when we can see these colors.