Share shares This causes the cone cells in the retina - each of which detect either red, green or blue light - to 'become tired of and ignore' the colours being stared at. When the monochrome scene is restored, the remaining cone cells responsible for detecting other colours than the ones being staring at 'fill in' the scene.
Roses aren't red and violets aren't blue. At least that's the premise of a new book, 'Outside Color', which puts forward the debate that colour is, in fact, an illusion. Author Dr Mazviita Chirimuuta uses the book to explore the historical debates that suggest colour doesn't exist - at least not in the literal sense.
Light, however, does exist, and it's the mind that transforms that light into colour. This is where overexposure to a given colour causes the retina to become tired of that colour and desensitises the cone cells to it for a short period. When the colour stimulus is removed and the eye is exposed to a black and white image under white light, then the complementary colour is perceived for a brief period of time. The Spectrum of Science to help explain that often the way our brains interpret colour can cause it to become confused.
She said the recent internet sensation caused by the white and gold dress, which some saw as being blue and black, was a good example. People really care about it. By continuing to stare at the scene after looking at the false colour image, the black and white information in the photograph should be covered with colour, just like the real scene. After a few seconds the effect wears off 'The question is: But how do you check?
And then along came The Dress. Some people were adamant it was blue and black. Others insisted it was white and gold. Scientists from the University of Bradford and University of Giessen in Germany say the disagreements were likely caused by the mechanism the brain uses to ensure an object is seen to be the same colour, no matter what time of day it is and what type of light it is bathed in. In bright, midday sun, daylight is blueish and so the brain subtracts blue light.
Under artificial light, it gets rid of yellows - and in both cases the object should appear the same. In bright daylight is blueish so the brain subtracts blue light. Under artificial light, it gets rid of yellows. Crucially, it relies on other nearby colours, such as reds and greens, to work out how much light to remove. In the case of the dress, these reference colours were missing and the brain had to rely on experience Crucially, it relies on other nearby colours, such as reds and greens, to work out how much blue or yellow light to remove.
In the case of the two-tone dress, these reference colours were completely missing, and the brain had to rely on experience. Add in the fact that blue is particularly tricky for the brain to deal with and some people got it wrong. They took away too much blue and saw the dress as white and gold. In contrast, others subtracted the yellows, and rightly perceived it as blue and black. Neuroscientist Bevil Conway, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who asked more than 1, people about 'The Dress', added it is likely that people who spend a lot of time outdoors, or had just been in daylight, took away too much blue and saw it as white and gold.
While those more used to artificial light subtracted yellows and perceived it as blue and black. MailOnline got hold of a copy of the dress pictured and was able to confirm that it is black and blue This could explain why young people, who tend to spend more time indoors and stay up late, were more likely to see it as blue and black.
And why women, who are less likely to be night owls than men, veered towards white and gold. Professor Andrew Lotery from the University of Southampton told MailOnline everyone has different combinations of the genes that create the sense of colour and because these genes are on the X chromosome, women tend to have more variations. This may explain why women flip between seeing the different colours, and men typically don't. He added that some people have more than one 'dose' of a blue colour gene, as an example, so they will see higher or lower levels of this colour, too.
Additionally, as people get older their perception of colour changes. The lens of the eye gradually yellows with age and this exposes more blue, continued Professor Lotery. This will influence how deep or strong a colour appears and could explain why older people may see the blues and blacks rather than the whites and golds.