Much of what we know about human colour perception has come from psychophysical studies conducted in tightly-controlled laboratory settings. An enduring challenge, however, lies in extrapolating this knowledge to the noisy conditions that characterize our actual visual experience. Here we combine statistical models of visual perception with empirical data to explore how chromatic (hue/saturation) and achromatic (luminant) information underpins the detection and classification of stimuli in a complex forest environment. The data best support a simple linear model of stimulus detection as an additive function of both luminance and saturation contrast. The strength of each predictor is modest yet consistent across gross variation in viewing conditions, which accords with expectation based upon general primate psychophysics. Our findings implicate simple visual cues in the guidance of perception amidst natural noise, and highlight the potential for informing human vision via a fusion between psychophysical modelling and real-world behaviour.
- sensory ecology