Close-up Engeneering

What color is the dress in the picture? The answer of science

Close-up Engineering

PUBBLICATO IL: 2 Marzo 2015


What color is the dress in the picture? From a few hours the web has gone mad. The same photo, viewed on the same device at the same time by groups of people in the same place seems to appear with different colors. Others see the dress of white and gold, and those who see the blue and white.

The origin of the picture that has been around the world and has received millions of shares has already been discussed in a previous article. Although the original dress is blue and white, the picture taken is overexposed, disregarding the real colors. But it seems that a large part of the population see, in any case, the true colors of the dress shown in the shot.

The real color tones of the picture are shown in the image that opens this article that shows a RGB analysis conducted by Close-up Engineering.

What causes this?
This is extremely unusual. Jay Neitz, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington says that it is “individual difference of perception” and that this is the largest individual perception that, in 30 years of study, has ever seen.

As everyone knows, the light enters the human eye with different wavelengths corresponding to the different shades of color. The light hits the retina at the back of the eye where pigments affect neural connections that activate the visual cortex, the part of the brain used in the creation of images. In essence, the brain processes different wavelengths perceived by discriminating lighting and colors of the objects.

Usually this system works well, but in this particular case, the photo hits a sort of perceptive border. Human is made to see the light of day, but the day light changes color. This color range varies from pinkish-red dawn, through the white-blue-noon, and then again to a reddish twilight. Therefore, the brain of each individual seeks “his way” to reinterpret the original color of the image, but is influenced by several factors.

How explain different neuoroscientists, every individual has a wealth of experience and expectations, as well as particular levels of attention and eye movements. In all this is also part of what has been observed a moment before to see the image and the influence that has the background on which the photo was taken, or, for example, what surrounds it. The combination of all these factors “affects” the brain in different ways to reinterpret the same image. A demonstration of this is the fact that, in several cases, the same image is appeared with different colors to the same individual at different times.

I think I’ll spend the rest of my life to studying this phenomenon, concluded Neitz in an interview.



Raffaele Salvemini

Founder di Close-up Engineering e CEO di Vibre, azienda che si occupa di interfacce neurali. Nel 2020 è stato inserito nella lista di Forbes Italia tra i 100 giovani under 30 più influenti.

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