The human eye can perceive four unique colors, that is colors that are not mixed with any other hues. They are blue, green, yellow and red. According to a study published in the journal Current Biology color perception changes with seasons since each season comes with its own color: such as more green in summers and more hues of grey and white in winter.
Researchers decided to analyze the color yellow because it is more special among the group of the four unique colors. This is because irrespective of individual differences regarding eye sight most people agree upon the same nuance of unique yellow. Researchers wanted to discover whether this unchanged perception of the color yellow is caused not by psychological reasons but by environmental ones.
In order to test this theory researchers asked 67 men and women to decide which was the unique yellow color both in January and in June. The participants were placed in a dark room and were required to use a colorimeter in order to identify the color unique yellow. A colorimeter is a dial-controlled machine which displays a spectrum of colors. The scientists observed that compared to the winter season in summer the setting of the color unique yellow shifted to shorter wavelengths.
The lead author of the study Lauren Welbourne explained that the study indicates that people’s vision adapts to environmental changes between seasons. According to her this process is similar to what happened when adjusting the color on a TV set: as the colors around us change with seasons our visual system naturally balances the way in which we perceive colors. Welbourne remarked:
In York (U.K.), you typically have grey, dull winters and then in summer you have greenery everywhere. Our vision compensates for those changes and that, surprisingly, changes what we think ‘yellow’ looks like.”
She also mentioned the very different environments that change throughout the years in many other places in the world such as winter and summer in the arctic and the rainy season in India.
Even though this study does not contribute with treatments for vision problems it offers insight into how out visual system works and this helps us understand how people see the world.
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