So you think you know your colors?


If someone gave you a bunch of things and asked you to identify the color of each one (you don’t have to say the exact specific shade, but just the general color family) you’d think, “Piece of cake!  I’ve only known what colors are since kindergarten…”  So, when you look at the bottom picture on this visual design blog, what color is the little square on the left, and what color is the one on the right?

I thought that the square on the left was orange, and the one on the right was brown.  But… they’re actually the exact same color!  Try pasting the picture into Paint or Photoshop or something and comparing them…I promise I’m not lying!  Colors are not all as they seem…a lot of things affect what color we perceive something to be– in this example, the surrounding colors, or the context a color is in changes what we see.  This is called “simultaneous contrast”.

Try out another really cool experiment taken from that shows you a chromatic adaptation illusion…


Amazing, isn’t it? Our eyes really are little tricksters…and to think about how much we rely on them for everything!  Here’s a bunch more illusions— you literally won’t believe your eyes!

But, our eyes aren’t oblivious all the time!  See, I wonder how it is that we can look at a picture like this one:

English: Preparations for a hot air balloon ri...

Image via Wikipedia



…and know that the green on the top is the same as the green on the bottom? They obviously look different, we clearly see that the green on the top looks darker than the green on the bottom, but our brain tells us that they are, in fact the same color?  This is because our brain subconciously knows that shadows can make things look darker, so we automatically take that into account when seeing pictures like this.  This “color constancy” lets us realize that even though a green apple might look lighter and whiter during the day in the sunlight, it is indeed the same apple that looks darker in the moonlight.


Although most of the population may get tricked into believing optical illusions are real, studies show that schizophrenics aren’t fooled by an optical illusion called the “hollow mask” because connections between the conceptual and sensory parts of their brain don’t function normally– there is an imbalance between bottom-up and top-down processing.  Here’s a video taken from Youtube that let’s you test out the “hollow mask” illusion yourself:

Below is a chart I made using Google Docs that shows the results from a study conducted by Danai Dima and Jonathan Roiser from University College London in 2008 of 13 schizophrenia patients and 16 healthy control subjects exposed to the “hollow mask” illusion:


2 responses »

  1. Pingback: A Theme Called Reality | Ask "Video News Net"

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