Color perception and handedness
Name: Carlos Rodriguez
Date: Around 1993
When the brain sees color, is there a difference in how a right-
handed or left-handed person perceives color?
Carlos, This is a great question, but I am not sure that there is
an answer. First, how do we know what colors people actually see? The only
way we can do anything is by having people match colors with standard chips,
but that does not tell us that we actually see the same color, or that we
store it in our brains the same way. I cannot think of a way to answer this
question. You could try by getting some color samples and having different
people match them to some picture. You could see if there is a difference
between left and right hand people. A related question is about color
blindness. In some books you should be able to find the color samples that
show whether someone is color blind. It might be a good study to ask many
people whether they can see the colors. Maybe with some of the new brain
scans techniques, we might be able to answer it. Keep asking such good
questions, you could be a great scientist.
I think of immediate relevance is the anatomy of vision. First
of all, colors are primarily decoded in the retina by cones, rods do
black/white encoding. Next this encoded signal is processed a bit but
essentially maps spatially into the occipital lobe of the brain (rear-end).
Since this is the first major location for processing and since it is being
spatial in an area of the brain that is not known to have hemispheric
specialization, this would suggest that at least at this level there would be
no difference between color perception between lefties and righties. That is
not the end of the story of course, but then you start running into issues of
semantics and philosophy. The occipital lobes do have connections to the rest
of the brain, chances are that because of the anatomy there is no real
difference in color perception between lefties and righties. In your reply I
think you are hinting at the other problems involved and I agree.
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Update: June 2012