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Vis Neurosci. 2006 May-Aug;23(3-4):637-43.

Color naming and categorization in inherited color vision deficiencies.

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Division of Psychology, University of Sunderland, Sunderland, United Kingdom.


Dichromatic subjects can name colors accurately, even though they cannot discriminate among red-green hues (Jameson & Hurvich, 1978). This result is attributed to a normative language system that dichromatic observers developed by learning subtle visual cues to compensate for their impoverished color system. The present study used multidimensional scaling techniques to compare color categorization spaces of color-vision deficient (CVD) subjects to those of normal trichromat (NT) subjects, and consensus analysis estimated the normative effect of language on categorization. Subjects sorted 140 Munsell color samples in three different ways: a free sorting task (unlimited number of categories), a constrained sorting task (number of categories limited to eight), and a constrained naming task (limited to eight basic color terms). CVD color categories were comparable to those of NT subjects. For both CVD and NT subjects, a common color categorization space derived from the three tasks was well described by a three-dimensional model, with the first two dimensions corresponding to reddish-greenish and yellowish-bluish axes. However, the third axis, which was associated with an achromatic dimension in NTs, was not identified in the CVD model. Individual differences multidimensional scaling failed to reveal group differences in the sorting tasks. In contrast, the personal color naming spaces of CVD subjects exhibited a relative compression of the yellowish-bluish dimension that is inconsistent with the typical deutan-type color spaces derived from more direct measures of perceptual color judgments. As expected, the highest consensus among CVDs (77%) and NTs (82%) occurred in the naming task. The categorization behaviors studied in this experiment seemed to rely more on learning factors, and may reveal little about CVD perceptual representation of colors.

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