Do You See What I See?
Study suggests we don’t all see colors the same.
Web2Carz Senior Writer
Published: July 5th, 2012
veryone agrees that the color of a strawberry is roughly the same as the color of a fire engine, and we all call that color “red.” But according to vision specialists, what one person sees as red is what other people say is blue. In other words, while we all look at the color red and recognize it as red, we might not all be seeing the same color. .
The new theory of color perception is based on results of a study in which human genes were injected into spider monkeys.
This goes contrary to the previously held theory, which was that human brains all processed color is the same way and that those colors are tied to universal responses.
The new theory of color perception is based on results of a study at the University of Washington, Seattle, in which human genes were injected into spider monkeys in order to allow them to see in color. Spider monkeys, and most mammals, only have two kinds of cones in their eyes—green-sensitive and blue-sensitive. They lack the red-sensitive cones that allow humans to see in full color.
The injections turned some of the monkeys’ cones into red sensitive cones, and despite their brains not being hard-wired to react to red-sensitive cones, the monkeys began to see in full color. This led scientists to wonder what the monkeys thought the new unfamiliar colors were?
This is what upended scientists’ theory about how our brains perceive color, since it implies that there are no pre-formed perceptions assigned to each color.
Ultimately, scientists hope that this type of gene therapy can be used to help people with color blindness, and may one day be able to help the blind to see.
Still, the argument over whether one person’s red looks like another person’s red remains academic, as long as we all agree that the red light at an intersection means stop. Otherwise, our color perception would make monkeys of us all.