The Illuminant Estimation Hypothesis and Surface Colour Perception

Laurence T. Maloney, Joong Nam Yang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The degree of surface colour constancy that we experience depends on viewing conditions: under some circumstances, we have essentially none, and under others, we show a remarkable, nearly perfect, degree of constancy. This chapter considers an analogous explanation for failures and successes of surface colour perception, based on the illuminant estimation hypothesis. An evident implication of this illuminant estimation hypothesis is that the number and strength of illuminant cues present in a scene limit the degree of colour constancy possible: little colour constancy is possible in scenes devoid of illuminant cues. If a colour visual system fails to make use of the cues available, we would also expect errors in surface colour perception as a consequence.

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 constancy
  • Colour perception
  • Colour visual system
  • Constancy
  • Illuminant cues
  • Illuminant estimation hypothesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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