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From spectral information to animal colour vision: experiments and concepts.

Kelber, Almut LU and Osorio, Daniel (2010) In Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 277. p.1617-1625
Abstract
Many animals use the spectral distribution of light to guide behaviour, but whether they have colour vision has been debated for over a century. Our strong subjective experience of colour and the fact that human vision is the paradigm for colour science inevitably raises the question of how we compare with other species. This article outlines four grades of 'colour vision' that can be related to the behavioural uses of spectral information, and perhaps to the underlying mechanisms. In the first, even without an (image-forming) eye, simple organisms can compare photoreceptor signals to locate a desired light environment. At the next grade, chromatic mechanisms along with spatial vision guide innate preferences for objects such as food or... (More)
Many animals use the spectral distribution of light to guide behaviour, but whether they have colour vision has been debated for over a century. Our strong subjective experience of colour and the fact that human vision is the paradigm for colour science inevitably raises the question of how we compare with other species. This article outlines four grades of 'colour vision' that can be related to the behavioural uses of spectral information, and perhaps to the underlying mechanisms. In the first, even without an (image-forming) eye, simple organisms can compare photoreceptor signals to locate a desired light environment. At the next grade, chromatic mechanisms along with spatial vision guide innate preferences for objects such as food or mates; this is sometimes described as wavelength-specific behaviour. Here, we compare the capabilities of di- and trichromatic vision, and ask why some animals have more than three spectral types of receptors. Behaviours guided by innate preferences are then distinguished from a grade that allows learning, in part because the ability to learn an arbitrary colour is evidence for a neural representation of colour. The fourth grade concerns colour appearance rather than colour difference: for instance, the distinction between hue and saturation, and colour categorization. These higher-level phenomena are essential to human colour perception but poorly known in animals, and we suggest how they can be studied. Finally, we observe that awareness of colour and colour qualia cannot be easily tested in animals. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
volume
277
pages
1617 - 1625
publisher
Royal Society
external identifiers
  • pmid:20164101
  • wos:000276997700001
  • scopus:77953486354
ISSN
1471-2954
DOI
10.1098/rspb.2009.2118
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
e1a3c9c6-a86e-4a74-9b6e-fc74de4b921c (old id 1552550)
alternative location
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20164101?dopt=Abstract
date added to LUP
2010-03-18 11:41:59
date last changed
2018-07-01 03:43:26
@article{e1a3c9c6-a86e-4a74-9b6e-fc74de4b921c,
  abstract     = {Many animals use the spectral distribution of light to guide behaviour, but whether they have colour vision has been debated for over a century. Our strong subjective experience of colour and the fact that human vision is the paradigm for colour science inevitably raises the question of how we compare with other species. This article outlines four grades of 'colour vision' that can be related to the behavioural uses of spectral information, and perhaps to the underlying mechanisms. In the first, even without an (image-forming) eye, simple organisms can compare photoreceptor signals to locate a desired light environment. At the next grade, chromatic mechanisms along with spatial vision guide innate preferences for objects such as food or mates; this is sometimes described as wavelength-specific behaviour. Here, we compare the capabilities of di- and trichromatic vision, and ask why some animals have more than three spectral types of receptors. Behaviours guided by innate preferences are then distinguished from a grade that allows learning, in part because the ability to learn an arbitrary colour is evidence for a neural representation of colour. The fourth grade concerns colour appearance rather than colour difference: for instance, the distinction between hue and saturation, and colour categorization. These higher-level phenomena are essential to human colour perception but poorly known in animals, and we suggest how they can be studied. Finally, we observe that awareness of colour and colour qualia cannot be easily tested in animals.},
  author       = {Kelber, Almut and Osorio, Daniel},
  issn         = {1471-2954},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {1617--1625},
  publisher    = {Royal Society},
  series       = {Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences},
  title        = {From spectral information to animal colour vision: experiments and concepts.},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2009.2118},
  volume       = {277},
  year         = {2010},
}