Encyclopedia of Color Science and Technology

Living Edition
| Editors: Ronnier Luo

Dynamics of Color Category Formation and Boundaries

  • Stephanie Huette
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27851-8_64-6


Dynamics of color boundaries is broadly the area that characterizes color categorization as a process that occurs over time.

Color Boundaries

A color category boundary is the area in perceptual color space where the labeling of one color transitions into another label. Color is a continuous wavelength dimension but distorted into nonlinearly perceived perceptual categories. A category boundary is fundamentally a distortion of continuous color space during perceptual and cognitive processing of color. There is no external signal in the wavelength dimension to tell the perceptual system to make this abrupt transition. This is called the problem of invariance [1]. The demarcation of color space has led to empirical work seeking to characterize color boundaries and discover their underlying dynamics.

There are various tasks that can be used to define a color boundary. One way researchers can do this is simply by presenting a color swatch and asking participants for the...
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.
    Harnad, S. (ed.): Categorical Perception: The Groundwork of Cognition. Cambridge University Press, New York (1987)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bornstein, M.H., Korda, N.O.: Discrimination and matching within and between hues measured by reaction times: Some implications for categorical perception and levels of information processing. Psychol. Res. 46, 207–222 (1984)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Pilling, M., Wiggett, A., Özgen, E., Davies, I.R.L.: Is color “categorical perception” really perceptual? Mem. Cogn. 31, 538–551 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Fagot, J., Goldstein, J., Davidoff, J., Pickering, A.: Cross-species differences in color categorization. Psychon. Bull. Rev. 13, 275–280 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Özgen, E., Davies, I.R.L.: Acquisition of categorical color perception: A perceptual learning approach to the linguistic relativity hypothesis. J. Exp. Psychol. Gen. 131, 477–493 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Roberson, D., Davidoff, J., Davies, I.R.L., Shapiro, L.R.: The development of color categories in two languages: A longitudinal study. J. Exp. Psychol. Gen. 133, 554–571 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bornstein, M.H., Korda, N.O.: Identification and adaptation of hue: parallels in the operation of mechanisms that underlie categorical perception in vision and audition. Psychol. Res. 47, 1–17 (1985)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Raskin, L.H., Maital, S., Bornstein, M.H.: Perceptual categorization of color: a life-span study. Psychol. Res. 45, 135–145 (1983)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Komarova, N.L., Jameson, K.A., Narens, L.: Evolutionary models of color categorization based on discrimination. J. Math. Psychol. 51, 359–382 (2007)CrossRefzbMATHMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Goldstone, R.L.: Effects of categorization on color perception. Psychol. Sci. 6, 298–304 (1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Huette, S., McMurray, B.: Continuous dynamics of color categorization. Psychon. Bull. Rev. 17, 348–354 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Beer, R.D.: The dynamics of active categorical perception in an evolved model agent. Adapt. Behav. 11, 209–243 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Usher, M., McClelland, J.L.: The time course of perceptual choice: the leaky competitive accumulator model. Psychol. Rev. 108, 550–592 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MemphisMemphisTN