Color sensation

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The perception of color is a strictly charming bound phenomenon in the visual centers of the visual sense .

The cause of the excitation is the interaction of photons of different energies with the visual purple in the visual cells . In humans, radiation between 380  nm and 780 nm is effective for the visual sense, i.e. it is perceptible.

Other species of animals have different sensitivities. You are then able to evaluate long-wave infrared or short-wave ultraviolet stimuli (butterflies: below 380 nm).

The color stimulus on the cones and transmission via the optic nerves makes it possible to differentiate between the various spectral compositions , which is perceived as color valence .

Isolated sensations only exist under laboratory conditions , so the “pure color sensation” as the basis of color research is accompanied by other phenomena such as gloss , structure or the field of vision. The difficulty of creating a pure color theory or a generally recognized theory of harmony is due to this peculiarity of the sense of sight. The visual perception is not point-related, but area-related, even if the "color-sensitive" cones are only concentrated on a narrow area of ​​the retina .

Further information on color perception: → main article color perception

The connection between the terms color stimulus, color valence and color sensation
term Site of action Type of action Area of ​​Expertise
Color stimulus Light source Transport of photons Development of colors / optics
Color valence Eye ( cone ) Spectral-specific response of the retina physiology
Color sensation brain Color perception Physiology / Psychology


  • Karl Mütze (ed.): ABC of optics . Brockhaus, Leipzig 1961