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Behav Brain Sci. 1997 Jun;20(2):167-79; discussion 179-228.

Are there nontrivial constraints on colour categorization?

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Centre for Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Leuven, Belgium.


In this target article the following hypotheses are discussed: (1) Colour is autonomous: a perceptuolinguistic and behavioural universal. (2) It is completely described by three independent attributes: hue, brightness, and saturation: (3) Phenomenologically and psychophysically there are four unique hues: red, green, blue, and yellow; (4) The unique hues are underpinned by two opponent psychophysical and/or neuronal channels: red/green, blue/yellow. The relevant literature is reviewed. We conclude: (i) Psychophysics and neurophysiology fail to set nontrivial constraints on colour categorization. (ii) Linguistic evidence provides no grounds for the universality of basic colour categories. (iii) Neither the opponent hues red/green, blue/yellow nor hue, brightness, and saturation are intrinsic to a universal concept of colour. (iv) Colour is not autonomous.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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