Can You See A Color if You Don't Know Its Name? Ask a Baby.

by ParentCo. February 11, 2016

A new study shows that infants aged between 5 and 7 months categorize colors, even before they can use language.

This study appears to be the first evidence that color perception has a universal starting point prior to language acquisition.

It begins to answer a long-standing debate (at least among stoners and philosophers) about the nature of our perception of color. At a basic level, how subjective is color? Do colors exist if we don't name them?

Anther way of saying it: if a person is raised to call the color "red" "green," do they actually perceive red as a shade of green? Woah, trippy. As reported by Science Daily, the new study reveals that the categorization of colors can be independent of language, at least in the early stage of development in an infant's visual system.

For the study, infants 5-7 months old were tested to see if brain activity was different for colors in different categories. Brain activity increased significantly when the colors of blue and green were alternated, while there was no significant reaction to the alternation of different shades of green.

Results show that color information is processed in infant brains in a way similar to adults. They also imply that color categories develop independent of language.

So color categories may develop independently before language acquisition. Still TBD: is color simply something in our brains, or does it exist independently in the world?

Source:
Jiale Yang, So Kanazawa, Masami K. Yamaguchi, Ichiro Kuriki. Cortical response to categorical color perception in infants investigated by near-infrared spectroscopy. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2016; 201512044 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1512044113



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