Colour Constancy beyond the Classical Receptive Field

Arash Akbarinia, C. Alejandro Parraga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


© 1979-2012 IEEE. The problem of removing illuminant variations to preserve the colours of objects (colour constancy) has already been solved by the human brain using mechanisms that rely largely on centre-surround computations of local contrast. In this paper we adopt some of these biological solutions described by long known physiological findings into a simple, fully automatic, functional model (termed Adaptive Surround Modulation or ASM). In ASM, the size of a visual neuron's receptive field (RF) as well as the relationship with its surround varies according to the local contrast within the stimulus, which in turn determines the nature of the centre-surround normalisation of cortical neurons higher up in the processing chain. We modelled colour constancy by means of two overlapping asymmetric Gaussian kernels whose sizes are adapted based on the contrast of the surround pixels, resembling the change of RF size. We simulated the contrast-dependent surround modulation by weighting the contribution of each Gaussian according to the centre-surround contrast. In the end, we obtained an estimation of the illuminant from the set of the most activated RFs' outputs. Our results on three single-illuminant and one multi-illuminant benchmark datasets show that ASM is highly competitive against the state-of-the-art and it even outperforms learning-based algorithms in one case. Moreover, the robustness of our model is more tangible if we consider that our results were obtained using the same parameters for all datasets, that is, mimicking how the human visual system operates. These results suggest a dynamical adaptation mechanisms contribute to achieving higher accuracy in computational colour constancy.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8039202
Pages (from-to)2081-2094
JournalIEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Colour constancy
  • centre-surround contrast
  • classical receptive field
  • illuminant estimation
  • surround modulation


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