Upcoming Events

POSTPONED! Kathleen Akins, (former research associate at the Center) will be giving a talk

"Colour, Bit by Bit"


How does colour perception develop in the infant or child? Despite a very long history of philosophical and scientific interest in the nature of colour perception, this question is still puzzling. Prima facie, there seem to be only three options: (a) infants come into the world with the ability to see the colours; (b) infants come into the world seeing ‘in black and white’ and, one day (one night?) suddenly acquire this ability, or; (c) they acquire colour vision ‘bit by bit’, just as they do other complex perceptual concepts. The first suggestion runs counter to all evidence, historical and current. Even Darwin was puzzled by his children’s complete inability to learn colour terms until into their fourth year of life and feared that his children were congenitally colour blind. The second option, (b), seems even less likely. Surely we would see some behavioural consequences of such an extraordinary developmental event. This leaves us with the (c), the gradual acquisition of colour perception. This option is most in line with current research in the developmental psychology and neuroscience but no less puzzling for it. Does the child’s black and white world slowly grow more saturated day by day or do the colours appear, one category at a time, from blue to red?) This talk presents one way to resolve the puzzle, an answer drawn from contemporary colour neurophysiology and psychophysics.


The Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University is a research unit that serves as a locus for the graduate and undergraduate interdisciplinary programs in cognitive science, and that provides an administrative home for various research projects in cognitive studies undertaken by the Co-directors and their associates.

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