Parallel detection of violations of color constancy

DH Foster, SMC Nascimento, K Amano, L Arend, Karina Linnell, JL Nieves, S Plet, JS Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

38 Citations (Scopus)


The perceived colors of reflecting surfaces generally remain stable despite changes in the spectrum of the illuminating light. This color constancy can be measured operationally by asking observers to distinguish illuminant changes on a scene from changes in the reflecting properties of the surfaces comprising it. It is shown here that during fast illuminant changes, simultaneous changes in spectral reflectance of one or more surfaces in an array of other surfaces can be readily detected almost independent of the numbers of surfaces, suggesting a preattentive, spatially parallel process. This process, which is perfect over a spatial window delimited by the anatomical fovea, may form an early input to a multistage analysis of surface color, providing the visual system with information about a rapidly changing world in advance of the generation of a more elaborate and stable perceptual representation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8151-8156
Number of pages6
JournalNational Academy of Sciences. Proceedings
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2001


  • surface color
  • cone-excitation ratios
  • parallel processing
  • transient chromatic signals


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