Encyclopedia of Color Science and Technology

Living Edition
| Editors: Ronnier Luo

Color Vision, Opponent Theory

  • Sophie Wuerger
  • Kaida Xiao
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27851-8_92-1



Opponency in human color vision refers to the idea that our perceptual color mechanisms are arranged in an opponent fashion. One mechanism, the red-green mechanism, signals colors ranging from red to green; the other one, the yellow-blue mechanism, signals colors ranging from yellow to blue. This opponency is often referred to as hue opponency, as opposed to cone opponency.

Behavioral Evidence for Color-Opponent Processing

Hering [ 1] was the first to notice that some pairs of colors, namely, red and green and yellow and blue, cannot be perceived at the same time. He named these pairs of colors “Gegenfarben” [opponent colors] since they are mutually exclusive colors; in Hering’s original figure (Fig. 1), this mutual exclusivity is conveyed by the lack of overlap between red and green and between yellow and blue. The idea is that these opponent colors constitute the end points...


Lateral Geniculate Nucleus Ambient Illumination Chromaticity Diagram Opponent Color Opponent Mechanism 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological SciencesInstitute of Psychology, Health & Society, University of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK