red and green


a friend pointed me at this article talking about redgreen and blueyellow.. the idea involves opponent process theory, with opponent processes between red and green, and between blue and yellow. I've been skeptical of it since an incident in high school where my psycology teacher was telling us how opponent process theory explained after images, like looking at a red square for a while, and then looking at a white background and seeing a green after image, but I tried this with my family, and everyone saw a cyan after image (I had a green and cyan box nearby for comparison), so I figured the theory was bunk.

but, I hear that they've actually identified neurons that do in-fact do the opponent process thing in other animals that see color similar to how we do. And I've also heard that after images are not evidence for the theory anyway — that is, after images are explained by cones getting tired, and not by opponent process theory. The evidence that's meant to be in favor of opponent process theory is that yellow looks like a different color than red or green, rather than a mix of the two. I sortof figured it was cultural, and thought color golf would help me see yellow as a mix of red and green, and actually, I feel like it did, though my friend thinks I just convinced myself that it did, which may be true..

here's a gradient from red to green:

..and, well.. it looks like a gradient from red to green to me, with the color in the middle being redgreen (a dull yellow). A full-brightness yellow does not appear on a linear interpolation between red and green, instead, each color is at half-brightness..

anyway, despite this, I figured I'd try staring at some red and green stripes like those described in the experiment:

..I tried a number of variations of this, adjusting the level of green to be the same brightness as the red (since green is a brighter color), and also trying a checkerboard pattern, but I don't think I saw a new color. I also tried a red and green square next to each other, and then looking past the image so the squares overlapped, so one eye was seeing green and the other red:

..in this case, I feel like I see one color or the other — the color I see switches as I stare — but they don't seem to "mix"..

anyway.. the actual experiment seems to involve an eye tracker, which I don't have, so I'm still willing for there to be a new color, and I would love to see a new color if there is one to be seen, but I'm skeptical..

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