Seeing Lightness, Darkness and Color | Visual Perception and the Brain | Coursera

Hi everyone,

A couple of weeks ago, I started the “Visual Perception and the Brain” course, at, lectured by Dr. Dales Purves, M.D. from Duke University.

The purpose of the course is to consider how what we see is generated by the visual system. Thus the objectives of the course are:

  • To introduce perceptual phenomenology;
  • To brainstorm about how phenomenology can be explained;
  • To consider possible explanations about brain function.

During the first lecture, Dr. Dales Purves discussed about “What We Actually See” and introduced us to The Inverse Problem, followed by the “Visual Stimuli” and the “Organisation of the Human Visual System”. A lot of topics were addressed, like the eye, the retina, the primary visual pathway, the visual cortex and receptive fields.

Last week’s lecture was about “Seeing Lightness, Darkness and Colour”, and these topics were elaborated with an emphasis on the discrepancies between luminance and lightness, light and colour, and how our visual system works to allows us to perceive colour.

It was a fascinating lecture with a lot of new information about how we see and what do we see. It was enlightening to understand how human evolution developed our visual sense to adapt to different lights and colours. My question for this topic is: what is the correlation between our colour perception and the colour theory lectured in design courses? If we all perceive colour in different ways, why does some make us feel different emotions? What part of the visual system connects these? And for fun: what colour was the dress?





Author: Pedro Oliveira

Master in Informatics and Computer Engineering; Game Developer at FABAMAQ. Photographer, Marketer and Designer. Interested in Virtual Reality, Brain-Computer Interfaces, Neuro Engineering.

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