Have you ever seen something that you thought was beautiful and spectacular? You rush to tell someone about it. Perhaps you point into the air and shout, “Look at that!” But they don’t see what you see. They might see it, but they don’t have the same reaction that you do. You might WONDER if they really saw what you saw at all.
Is it possible that different people can look at the same things and see something different? New research has led scientists to believe that may be true. In particular, people may not see all the same colors when they look at the same things.
These scientists believe that color perception may not be predetermined like many have believed for hundreds of years. Instead of a set pattern, scientists doing research with monkeys found that color perception may instead be shaped by the outside world.
Although most of us would agree that red is the color of cherries, cardinals and stop signs, scientists now think that one person’s red could sometimes be another person’s blue. The scientists’ research has led them to believe that new techniques might one day allow color-blind people to see colors again…and blind people to see once again, too!
Researchers point out that colors are differentiated by how our brains react differently to different wavelengths of light. They believe our brains don’t automatically associate, for example, short wavelengths with blue.
Scientists think that other factors, such as mood, feelings and even memories can affect our perception of colors. They claim it’s entirely possible that two people can look at the same object and have the same wavelengths hit their eyes, yet “see” different colors!
Another factor that may affect perception is the physical parts of our body that process the information from the world around us. Most people have three different photoreceptors in the backs of their eyes that perceive red, green and blue. Of course, color-blind people may be missing one or more of these photoreceptors.
Still others — called tetrachromats — may have a fourth photoreceptor that helps them see the full range of colors with greater sensitivity than the average person. Unless your eyes are specially tested, you might not ever know you’re a tetrachromat. You might just spend your life perceiving colors in ways that most people never will!