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Journal of the Optical Society of America A

Journal of the Optical Society of America A


  • Editor: Franco Gori
  • Vol. 31, Iss. 4 — Apr. 1, 2014
  • pp: A365–A374

Do focal colors look particularly “colorful”?

Christoph Witzel and Anna Franklin  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA A, Vol. 31, Issue 4, pp. A365-A374 (2014)

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If the most typical red, yellow, green, and blue were particularly colorful (i.e., saturated), they would “jump out to the eye.” This would explain why even fundamentally different languages have distinct color terms for these focal colors, and why unique hues play a prominent role in subjective color appearance. In this study, the subjective saturation of 10 colors around each of these focal colors was measured through a pairwise matching task. Results show that subjective saturation changes systematically across hues in a way that is strongly correlated to the visual gamut, and exponentially related to sensitivity but not to focal colors.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(330.1690) Vision, color, and visual optics : Color
(330.1720) Vision, color, and visual optics : Color vision
(330.5020) Vision, color, and visual optics : Perception psychology
(330.5510) Vision, color, and visual optics : Psychophysics

ToC Category:
Unique hues and color categories

Original Manuscript: September 30, 2013
Revised Manuscript: January 15, 2014
Manuscript Accepted: January 15, 2014
Published: March 5, 2014

Virtual Issues
Vol. 9, Iss. 6 Virtual Journal for Biomedical Optics

Christoph Witzel and Anna Franklin, "Do focal colors look particularly “colorful”?," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 31, A365-A374 (2014)

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