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Is This Green Or Blue? What You See Depends On How Your Brain Interprets Colors

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A fundamental part of being human is possessing at least one of the five senses: the sense of sight, sense of smell, sense of touch, sense of hearing and sense of taste.

It's very easy for two people to accept that they can have differences in taste, hearing, touch and even smell. But when it comes vision, it's often seen as something more linear, according to a new study.

What you see is what you get, right? However, not everyone sees the same thing.

This is what an online experiment from Optical Express, in partnership with Atomik Research, attempted to address. They displayed how our visual interpretations of the world can differ even on a basic level.

Experts asked one straightforward question very reminiscent of The Dress: is this swatch green or blue?

Color Spectrum

Now, more than 1,000 participants responded to the question. About 64 percent of the respondents claimed that the swatch was more green than blue, while 32 percent believed it to be more blue than green.

But when the same respondents were asked to name the same color adjacent to two similarly blue swatches, many of them changed their minds, with 90 percent stating that the original swatch is green.

In the end, researchers say that the vast majority were correct. The swatch is indeed more green than blue, based on the RGB (red, green, blue) spectrum, where the values of red, green and blue are 0, 122 and 116 respectively.

How Your Brain Perceives Color

Researchers say there is a reason people interpret color the way they do. Here's what happens: light enters the eye and hits the retina, the tissue located at the back of the eye that is very sensitive to light.

When this happens, light is then converted to an electrical signal that travels along the optic nerve and goes into the brain's visual cortex. Our brain produces its own unique interpretation of the visual signal.

Researchers say this is why it was not surprising that many of the participants changed their choice when they saw the colors contrasted in two shades. Humans perceive color based on a comparison to surrounding shades and not based on the actual color itself.

Uncertainty with color on a scale similar to the one in the study is very common than one would realize, researchers said. It's not necessarily attributed to how our eyes work, they said.

Language Affects Color Perception

Furthermore, language plays a part in the way we comprehend our surroundings.

For instance, while the name cyan is used for a blue-green shade in color industries and design, only about 7 percent of the public would actually use this name to describe the color swatch.

Instead, researchers found that people called it by other names: about 58 percent called it turquoise, 20 percent called it teal, and 10 percent called it aqua.

What About Color Blindness?

Researchers say that although their experiment was a "light-hearted affair," it still raises the fact that many people may have problems with color perception.

Indeed, color blindness is something that a lot of people do not realize they are affected by. Optical Express suggests that it is best for anyone to seek an appointment with a registered optometrist to diagnose the problem.

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