Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Color Science and Technology

pp 1-7

Date: Latest Version

Chromatic Contrast Sensitivity

  • Christoph WitzelAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Giessen University Email author 
  • , Karl GegenfurtnerAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Giessen University


Chromatic contrast refers to the occurrence of differences in chromaticity (saturated, hue-full color) in a visual percept (scene, image, stimulus). It may consist in differences across space (spatial chromatic contrast) or in changes of chromaticity across time (temporal chromatic contrast). The term chromatic contrast is used in opposition to achromatic contrast, where differences only occur in luminance (gray level). For example, whereas a black-and-white photo only contains achromatic contrasts, a color photo also contains chromatic contrast. While chromatic and color contrast refer to the same visual phenomenon, the term “chromatic contrast” emphasizes research on chromatic contrast sensitivity.

Conceptual Clarifications

Almost every phenomenon in color vision involves contrasts between colors. This is particularly true since colors are not perceived absolutely, but relative to other colors. In fact, contrasts between colors affect the appearance of the single colors. Stil ...

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