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Samia Faruq, Peter W. McOwan, Lars Chittka; The biological significance of color constancy: An agent-based model with bees foraging from flowers under varied illumination. Journal of Vision 2013;13(10):10. doi: 10.1167/13.10.10.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The perceived color of an object depends on its spectral reflectance and the spectral composition of the illuminant. Thus when the illumination changes, the light reflected from the object also varies. This would result in a different color sensation if no color constancy mechanism is put in place—that is, the ability to form consistent representation of colors across various illuminants and background scenes. We explore the quantitative benefits of various color constancy algorithms in an agent-based model of foraging bees, where agents select flower color based on reward. Each simulation is based on 100 “meadows” with five randomly selected flower species with empirically determined spectral reflectance properties, and each flower species is associated with realistic distributions of nectar rewards. Simulated foraging bees memorize the colors of flowers that they have experienced as most rewarding, and their task is to discriminate against other flower colors with lower rewards, even in the face of changing illumination conditions. We compared the performance of von Kries, White Patch, and Gray World constancy models with (hypothetical) bees with perfect color constancy, and color-blind bees. A bee equipped with trichromatic color vision but no color constancy performed only ∼20% better than a color-blind bee (relative to a maximum improvement at 100% for perfect color constancy), whereas the most powerful recovery of reflectance in the face of changing illumination was generated by a combination of von Kries photoreceptor adaptation and a White Patch calibration (∼30% improvement relative to a bee without color constancy). However, none of the tested algorithms generated perfect color constancy.
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