The effect of luminance differences on color assimilation

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© 2018 The Authors. The color appearance of a surface depends on the color of its surroundings (inducers). When the perceived color shifts towards that of the surroundings, the effect is called ''color assimilation'' and when it shifts away from the surroundings it is called "color contrast." There is also evidence that the phenomenon depends on the spatial configuration of the inducer, e.g., uniform surrounds tend to induce color contrast and striped surrounds tend to induce color assimilation. However, previous work found that striped surrounds under certain conditions do not induce color assimilation but induce color contrast (or do not induce anything at all), suggesting that luminance differences and high spatial frequencies could be key factors in color assimilation. Here we present a new psychophysical study of color assimilation where we assessed the contribution of luminance differences (between the target and its surround) present in striped stimuli. Our results show that luminance differences are key factors in color assimilation for stimuli varying along the s axis of MacLeod-Boynton color space, but not for stimuli varying along the l axis. This asymmetry suggests that koniocellular neural mechanisms responsible for color assimilation only contribute when there is a luminance difference, supporting the idea that mutual-inhibition has a major role in color induction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
JournalJournal of Vision
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • Color assimilation
  • Color induction
  • Luminance differences
  • Psychophysics
  • Striped stimuli


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