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How do we see colour from different light frequencies?

How do we see colour from different light frequencies?

Francesca Josephson


3 Responses

  1. We have three different wavelength detectors in our eyes. These are broadly red, green and blue with some overlap between them. When we see a strong red object then mostly the red detectors respond and or perception is that the object is “red”. Siimilarly for blues objects etc.

    When we see a yellow object, then both the red and green detectors respond(yellow is in between red and green in wavelength) and our perception labels this response “yellow”. This multiple detector response recipe then applies to all the other wavelengths.

  2. You’ve hit on a good question ,here .At the biological level the fovea – the central part of the retina has three different types of cone cells tuned by filters to detect the three colours blue, green, and red. . The cones are very close together so by finding out how much green, blue and red is in the incoming light from the signals received from each cone , the brain can work out what colour light is coming in .
    It does lead to a much bigger question which is – How do we experience the feeling of light and colour if we look at something when the optical part of the brain (which is at the back) is pitch dark and only has electric and chemical signals there. — no light. I don’t think we have a full answer to this question as yet. It’s known as the problem of “Qualia”

  3. Please see my blog http://colourware.wordpress.com/2009/06/29/colour-101/ for a decsription of how colour vision works

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