Early visual brain areas, language areas not crucial for color distinction
C.M. Bird et al/PNAS, adapted by S. Egts
The human brain tells green from blue by relying on sophisticated decision-making areas of the brain, not those that first receive visual input. That finding, published March 3 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also hints that language isn’t necessary for categorizing colors.
Colors can carry important information about an environment — a red berry that’s poisonous or a baby who has turned blue because he’s dangerously ill, for instance. Because colors can be linked to survival, our brains go to great lengths to detect and distinguish them from one another, says neuroscientist Bevil Conway of Wellesley College in Massachusetts. “The immediacy of it [color] belies the fact that there’s lots and lots of computation taking place,” says Conway, who was not involved in the study. And those computations, particularly how the