Color channels, not color appearance or color categories, guide visual search for desaturated color targets

Delwin T. Lindsey, Angela M. Brown, Ester Reijnen, Anina N. Rich, Yoana I. Kuzmova, Jeremy M. Wolfe

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    79 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    In this article, we report that in visual search, desaturated reddish targets are much easier to find than other desaturated targets, even when perceptual differences between targets and distractors are carefully equated. Observers searched for desaturated targets among mixtures of white and saturated distractors. Reaction times were hundreds of milliseconds faster for the most effective (reddish) targets than for the least effective (purplish) targets. The advantage for desaturated reds did not reflect an advantage for the lexical category "pink," because reaction times did not follow named color categories. Many pink stimuli were not found quickly, and many quickly found stimuli were not labeled "pink." Other possible explanations (e.g., linear-separability effects) also failed. Instead, we propose that guidance of visual search for desaturated colors is based on a combination of low-level color-opponent signals that is different from the combinations that produce perceived color. We speculate that this guidance might reflect a specialization for human skin.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1208-1214
    Number of pages7
    JournalPsychological Science
    Volume21
    Issue number9
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010

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