It’s all in your head

Color Perception

An image of a brain scan. color perception

Color perception is subjective. The color I see my not be the same color you see. Probably the hardest concept to grasp about color is that color is all in your head. It’s a sensation, just like touch. Like any other sensation it’s caused by physical reality. But it doesn’t have any physical reality of it’s own outside your body. Color is not a property of what’s causing the sensation. In other words, grass is not green and the sky is not blue. Rather, they have physical properties that make you perceive green and blue.

A red flower isn’t actually red. It’s just that the flower absorbs all of the wavelengths of light apart from those in a specific range. There are color receptors in the back of your eye that interpret that reflected wavelength as being red. Colors are the result of our brains trying  to make sense of signals it receives from the outside.

Your color red might be my color blue.


Our brains do a good job of keeping color constant for us. When we look at an apple for instance, it will look red regardless of the conditions we’re viewing it in. Bright light, dim light, florescent light. However recent research suggests that we don’t all see the same color. We might all agree that blood is the same color as a strawberry but what that actually looks like to me can be far different then what you see.

When we’re born,  our neurons aren’t configured to respond to color in a default way; instead, we each develop a unique perception of color.


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