Cortical Mechanisms of Color Vision

Karl R. Gegenfurtner
Justus-Liebig-Universität, Germany
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The perception of color is a central component of primate vision. Color facilitates object perception and recognition, and plays an important role in scene segmentation and visual memory. Color vision starts with the absorption of light in three different types of light sensitive receptors in the eye, which convert electromagnetic energy into electrical signals, which in turn are transformed into action potentials by a complicated network of cells in the retina. The information is sent to the visual cortex via three independent channels with different chromatic preferences. In the cortex, information from these channels is mixed to enable perception of a large variety of different hues. Furthermore, recent evidence suggests that color analysis and coding cannot be separated from the analysis and coding of other visual attributes such as form and motion. While there are some brain areas that are more sensitive to color than others, color vision emerges through the combined activity of neurons in many different areas.