Synesthesia: Where does Color Exist?

  • Richard Cytowic George Washington University Medical Centre


Where does color exist? As a property of light in "red wavelengths," as a neural calculation by retinal photoreceptors, or as a calculation in the brain? The perceptual couplings of synesthesia, along with color constancy and colored shadows, suggest that color is not a property of objects: In order to be biologically useful within our environment of ever–changing illumination, the brain must assign stable colors to surfaces. Color exists only within the silent darkness of an individual skull.

Richard E. Cytowic, MD MFA is Clinical Professor of Neurology at George Washington University, and the author most recently of “Synesthesia” and “Wednesday is Indigo Blue” (MIT Press).

Riferimenti bibliografici

CYTOWIC, Richard, Synesthesia, MIT Essential Knowledge Series, MIT Press, Cambridge Ma. 2018.

CYTOWIC, Richard, EAGLEMAN, David, Wednesday is indigo blue, MIT Press, Cambridge Ma. 2011.

GRAY, Jeffrey, Consciousness: creeping up on the hard Problem, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2007.

LAND, Edwin, Recent Advances in Retinex Theory, in Central and peripheral mechanisms of colour vision, Springer, New York 1985, pp. 5-17.

LAND, Edwin, The Retinex Theory of Color Vision, in “Scientifican American”, 237, 1977.

McCANN, John, Retinex Theory, in R. Luo (ed.), Encyclopedia of Color Science and Technology, Springer, New York 2016, pp. 1118-1124.
Sezione Monografica