Why Do People See This Dress as Having Different Colors?

So you haven’t heard enough about this dress yet—and you’re still looking for answers? Well, here is our two cents. Science has an answer for everything, well for this at least.

So why are people going nuts over this? Adam Rogers over at Wired wrote that light enters the eye through the lens—different wavelengths corresponding to different colors. The light hits the retina in the back of the eye where pigments fire up neural connections to the visual cortex, the part of the brain that processes those signals into an image. Critically, though, that first burst of light is made of whatever wavelengths are illuminating the world, reflecting off whatever you’re looking at. Without you having to worry about it, your brain figures out what color light is bouncing off the thing your eyes are looking at, and essentially subtracts that color from the “real” color of the object.


Original blue and black dress. (Image: swiked)


“Our visual system is supposed to throw away information about the illuminant, and extract information about the actual reflectance,” Jay Neitz, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington, told Rogers at Wired. “But I’ve studied individual differences in color vision for 30 years, and this is one of the biggest individual differences I’ve ever seen.” (Neitz sees white-and-gold.)

“So people either discount the blue side, in which case they end up seeing white and gold, or discount the gold side, in which case they end up with blue and black” added Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist at Wellesley College.

Here is the original image:

This video from Deadline News has the picture that reveals all:

So no more about the dress; it’s clear from the second image what color it is.

But I guess everyone knows a little more science because of it.

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