Visual discomfort and variations in chromaticity in art and nature
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Visual discomfort is related to the statistical regularity of visual images. The contribution of luminance contrast to visual discomfort is well understood and can be framed in terms of a theory of efficient coding of natural stimuli, and linked to metabolic demand. While colour is important in our interaction with nature, the effect of colour on visual discomfort has received less attention. In this study, we build on the established association between visual discomfort and differences in chromaticity across space. We average the local differences in chromaticity in an image and show that this average is a good predictor of visual discomfort from the image. It accounts for part of the variance left unexplained by variations in luminance. We show that the local chromaticity difference in uncomfortable stimuli is high compared to that typical in natural scenes, except in particular infrequent conditions such as the arrangement of colourful fruits against foliage. Overall, our study discloses a new link between visual ecology and discomfort whereby discomfort arises when adaptive perceptual mechanisms are overstimulated by specific classes of stimuli rarely found in nature.
Penacchio , O , Haigh , S M , Ross , X , Ferguson , R & Wilkins , A 2021 , ' Visual discomfort and variations in chromaticity in art and nature ' , Frontiers in Neuroscience , vol. 15 , 7111064 . https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2021.711064
Frontiers in Neuroscience
Copyright © 2021 Penacchio, Haigh, Ross, Ferguson and Wilkins. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
DescriptionSH was supported by a NARSAD Young Investigator Grant from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (26282), an R15 AREA award from the National Institute of Mental Health (122935), an NSF EPSCoR grant (1632849) on which SH is a co-investigator, and the NIH COBRE PG20GM103650. OP was partially funded by a Leverhulme grant (RPG-2019-096) to Julie M. Harris and a Research Incentive Grant from the Carnegie Trust (RIG009298).
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