Publications

We have published over 60 papers on Colour Perception and Perceptual Development.

A full list can be found here: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2201-4377.

Read on to explore a selection of some of our team’s most notable publications.

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Co-edited Handbook of Color Psychology

A handbook of Colour Psychology, gathering chapters from leading vision scientists, neuroscientsts and psychologists working on the topic of colour perception. 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Handbook-Color-Psychology-Cambridge-Handbooks/dp/1107043239

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Biological Components of Infant Color Categorization

A large scale infant study which finds that at just 4-6 months infants categorise the continuum of hue into five broad categories: red, yellow, green, blue and purple. The sensory mechanisms of colour vision provide faultlines for infant colour categories.  Infant colour categories also relate to commonalities in the world's colour lexicons. 


Skelton, A. E., Catchpole, G., Abbott, J. T., Bosten, J. M., & Franklin, A. (2017). Biological origins of color categorization. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(21), 5545-5550.

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ColourSpot: a Psychophysical, Gamified Test of Colour Vision Deficiency 

Presents the development and validation of 'ColourSpot', a gamified, psychophysical, colour-calibrated iPad app for diagnosis of colour vision deficiency in children from four years old.  The app can be administered by a parent or teacher and classifies colour vision Deficiency with greater accuracy than the Ishihara for the Unlettered.  

Tang, T., Álvaro, L., Alvarez, J., Maule, J., Skelton, A., Franklin, A., & Bosten, J. (2021). ColourSpot, a novel gamified tablet-based test for accurate diagnosis of color vision deficiency in young children. Behavior Research Methods, 1-13.

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Neural Signature of the Unique Hues

An Event-Related Potential (ERP) study which finds that the posterior P2 ERP component peaks earlier for unique (versions of red, green, blue and yellow that appear 'pure') than intermediate hues. This presents the first neural evidence for the priveleged status of unique hues. 

Forder, L., Bosten, J., He, X., & Franklin, A. (2017). A neural signature of the unique hues. Scientific reports, 7(1), 1-8.

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Categorical Colour Representation in the Brain

An fMRI study that finds that the middle frontal gurus responds categorically to colour. A representational similarity analysis finds that the visual cortex encodes the perceptual similarity, not categorical similarity of colour. 

Bird, C. M., Berens, S. C., Horner, A. J., & Franklin, A. (2014). Categorical encoding of color in the brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(12), 4590-4595.

Image by Jess Bailey

Colour Preference is not Universal

A cross-cultural study of colour preference. Finds that the colour preferences of the Himba people are organised by saturation not hue, and have a negative relationship with the valence of associated objects. Challenges the theory that colour preferences are universal. 

Taylor, C., Clifford, A., & Franklin, A. (2013). Color preferences are not universal. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 142(4), 1015.

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Colour Perception in Autism

A series of papers investigating how children and adults with autism discriminate and perceive colour.  We find evidence for reduced discrimination of colour differences, strong colour aversions and obsessions in some individuals, and typical colour adaptation and colour constancy. We also find reduced rapid averaging of colour in multicoloured ensembles, but enhanced recognition of individual colours relative to controls. These findings challenge existing theories of perception in Autism.


Maule, J., Stanworth, K., Pellicano, E., & Franklin, A. (2018). Color afterimages in autistic adults. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(4), 1409-1421.

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Colour Preference of Dichromats

A comparison of colour preference in male and female trichromats and male protanopic and deuteranopic dichromats. Dichromats have a stronger preference for yellow and a weaker preference for blue than trichromats. These differences are accounted for by a model of dichromatic colour vision. Sheds light on the perceptual experience if colour for those lacking a cone photoreceptor type, and has implications for fluency theories of aesthetics. 

Álvaro, L., Moreira, H., Lillo, J., & Franklin, A. (2015). Color preference in red–green dichromats. Proceedings of the national academy of sciences, 112(30), 9316-9321.

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Ensemble Perception of Colour

Our papers were some of the first published on ensemble perception of colour, establishing that people can average different hues (e.g. a set of blues and greens) but that this ability is limited by the range of hues that they see – when the range of colours is larger the average is not extracted so easily. We have found that hue category boundaries don’t influence perceptual averaging, but the boundary around grey does. We have shown that both perceptual averaging and individual member identification for colour may work differently in autism. We have also found adaptation effects to the variance in colour ensembles which generalise to other visual properties (orientation).

Maule, J., & Franklin, A. (2020). Adaptation to variance generalizes across visual domains. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 149(4), 662.

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Infants Look Longer at Colours Adults Like

A study with 4-6 month old infants and adults.  Infants are shown single colours and looking time is recorded. Adults are asked how much they like the colours.  Infants look longer at colours that adults like, and around half of the variance in the two measures is shared. Both can be modelled with the sensory mechanisms of colour vision. Suggests that early sensory preferences for colour can partially explain adults' aesthetic response. Highlights the usefulness of a developmental approach to understanding aesthetics. 

Skelton, A. E., & Franklin, A. (2020). Infants look longer at colours that adults like when colours are highly saturated. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 27(1), 78-85.

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Colour Constancy and Colour Term Knowledge are Related

Measures colour constancy in 2-4 year olds using a child-friendly task that includes a control for colour discrimination and task demands. Children's colour constancy is highly variable at this age, with some children almost as good as adults and others barely colour constant.  Colour constancy was positively related to how well children could name and identify the basic colour terms.  Suggests a relationship between language acquisition and perceptual constancy. 

Rogers, M. R., Witzel, C., Rhodes, P., & Franklin, A. (2020). Color constancy and color term knowledge are positively related during early childhood. Journal of experimental child psychology, 196, 104825.

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Neural Basis of Colour Preference

An fMRI study of colour preference. Participants passively viewed colours whilst performing another task in the scanner and then rated their preference for the colours outside of the scanner. A whole brain analysis revealed that BOLD  in the posterior midline cortex (precuneus, posterior cingulate and cuneus) correlated with colour preference.  This supports claims that the default mode network is involved in aesthetic preference, and extends this to show the involvement of this network even when preference judgments aren't explicitly being made.  Also points to the role of automatic self-referential processing in colour preference. 

Racey, C., Franklin, A., & Bird, C. M. (2019). The processing of color preference in the brain. NeuroImage, 191, 529-536.