A neural signature of the unique hues

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Forder, Lewis ; Bosten, Jenny ; He, Xun ; Franklin, Anna (2017)
  • Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
  • Journal: Scientific Reports, volume 7 (issn: 2045-2322, eissn: 2045-2322)
  • Related identifiers: pmc: PMC5301231, doi: 10.1038/srep42364
  • Subject: Article

Since at least the 17th century there has been the idea that there are four simple and perceptually pure “unique” hues: red, yellow, green, and blue, and that all other hues are perceived as mixtures of these four hues. However, sustained scientific investigation has not yet provided solid evidence for a neural representation that separates the unique hues from other colors. We measured event-related potentials elicited from unique hues and the ‘intermediate’ hues in between them. We find a neural signature of the unique hues 230 ms after stimulus onset at a post-perceptual stage of visual processing. Specifically, the posterior P2 component over the parieto-occipital lobe peaked significantly earlier for the unique than for the intermediate hues (Z = −2.9, p = 0.004). Having identified a neural marker for unique hues, fundamental questions about the contribution of neural hardwiring, language and environment to the unique hues can now be addressed.
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