Surface Colour Perception and Environmental Constraints

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter demonstrates that human surface colour perception can be modelled as algorithms that, over certain ranges of environmental conditions, manage to assign colours to objects that are in correspondence with specific, objective properties of the object's surface, called intrinsic colours. The chapter suggests that under certain circumstances, human observers do seem to estimate intrinsic surface colours accurately. Environmental constraints permit us to succeed in perceiving stable surface colours. These constraints can be thought of as a list of precise assertions concerning a visual scene. If all of the assertions on the list are true of the scene, then human colour vision, confined to a specified environment, will assign colours to surfaces in that scene that are the same as those it assigns to these surfaces in another scene that also satisfies these assertions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationColour Perception
Subtitle of host publicationMind and the Physical World
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191686764
ISBN (Print)9780198505006
StatePublished - Mar 22 2012


  • Colour perception
  • Colour vision
  • Colours
  • Environmental constraints
  • Intrinsic colours
  • Visual scene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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