On the nature of simultaneous colour contrast
The subject of the present thesis is the phenomenon of simultaneous colour contrast: As is well known, the perceived colour of a given light stimulus depends almost as strongly on the stimulation of neighbouring regions of the visual field as on the local stimulus itself. Thus, the perceived colour of a target stimulus can be manipulated either by changing the colour co-ordinates of the target itself, or, alternatively, by changing the colour co-ordinates of the surround. Classical models of simultaneous contrast are based on the implicit assumption that the changes in perceived colour brought about by these two kinds of manipulation are basically of the same kind, and thus may compensate each other. This ‘compensation assumption’ is equivalent to the widespread assumption that the space of perceived colours is three-dimensional. In principle, though, the well-established facts of trichromatic theory are compatible with a dimensionality of the space of perceived colours higher than three (namely three times the number of differently coloured regions in the visual field). One of the central results of the present investigations is that the compensation assumption seems to be unwarranted in the case of simple centre-surround stimuli. This instilled the expectation that classical methods for measuring simultaneous contrast effects, such as grey settings and asymmetric colour matching, may sometimes be inappropriate, and thus yield misleading results. In further experiments it is shown that this is indeed the case when uniformly coloured surrounds are used. In the case of variegated surrounds, however, matters appear to be much less complicated. This difference seems to be due to impressions of perceptual transparency being evoked by uniform surrounds, but not by variegated ones.