Brain controls color perception

In the first imaging of living human retinas, researchers at the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY, USA; www.rochester.edu) have found that the number of color-sensitive cones in the human retina differs dramatically among people-by up to 40 times-yet people appear to perceive colors the same way. The findings suggest that the perception of color is controlled much more by brains than by eyes.

In the first imaging of living human retinas, researchers at the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY, USA; www.rochester.edu) have found that the number of color-sensitive cones in the human retina differs dramatically among people-by up to 40 times-yet people appear to perceive colors the same way. The findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, strongly suggest that the perception of color is controlled much more by brains than by eyes.

David Williams, Allyn Professor of Medical Optics and director of the Center for Visual Science, and his research team used a laser-based adaptive-optics system to image the topography of the inner eye and precisely count the color-receptive cones in a living human eye for the first time. Imaging the living retina allowed the researchers to shine light directly into the eye to see what wavelengths each cone reflects and absorbs and, thus, to which color each is responsive.

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