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Anna Franklin; Color categories in infancy. Journal of Vision 2010;10(15):27. doi: 10.1167/10.15.27.
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Although the spectrum of color is continuous, there is converging evidence that adults respond categorically to color on a range of perceptual and cognitive tasks. The origin and nature of this categorical response has been extensively debated, with one issue being the extent to which it is dependent on color language. There is converging evidence for the contribution of language (e.g., Gilbert, Regier, Kay, & Ivry, 2005; Siok et al., 2009). However, there is also evidence from a series of infant studies, for a categorical response to color even before color language has been learnt (e.g., Bornstein, Kessen, & Weiskopf, 1976; Franklin & Davies, 2004; Franklin, Pilling, & Davies, 2005; Franklin, Drivonikou, Clifford, Kay, Regier, & Davies, 2008; Clifford, Franklin, Davies, & Holmes, 2009). These infant studies find markers of categorical responding to color using both behavioral and electrophysiological measures. For example, analysis of Event-Related Potentials (ERP) on a chromatic visual oddball task indicates that at 7-months, an infrequently presented color will elicit greater attentional allocation (a larger ‘Nc’ ERP component) than a frequently presented color when frequent and infrequent colors are from different categories, but not when they are from the same category (Clifford et al., 2009). Here, the converging evidence for infant color categories is reviewed and discussed. In particular, the discussion focuses on: i) potential origins and underlying mechanisms of infant color categories, and ii) the relationship between infant color categories and the lexical partition of color space.
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