You may have heard people arguing about the colour of a dress recently. Well, here it is.
I thought this was all a hoax. But then my wife looked at the dress and saw completely different colours.
The problem is I see a blue dress with black lace trim, while my wife sees a white dress with a gold lace trim. And we are not alone. Social media has been swamped with arguments between the two camps.
So how can two people see different colours?
The difference is how our brains individually interpret colour. Our brains determine the colour of the light that reflects off of an object, and then essentially removes it leaving behind the true colour of the object.
So, depending on whether the dress is lit by the yellow light of the sun or white light from incandescent bulbs, our brain is supposed to eliminate that wavelength and then send the interpreted image to our conscious mind.
“Our visual system is supposed to throw away information about the illuminant and extract information about the actual reflectance,” says Jay Neitz, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington. “But I’ve studied individual differences in color vision for 30 years, and this is one of the biggest individual differences I’ve ever seen.”
“What’s happening here is your visual system is looking at this thing, and you’re trying to discount the chromatic bias of the daylight axis,” says Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist who studies color and vision at Wellesley College. “So people either discount the blue side, in which case they end up seeing white and gold, or discount the gold side, in which case they end up with blue and black.”
So, what colour do you see?
The original photo was posted on Tumblr by swiked
The image in the middle is the original, the other two are filtered.