Chromaticity of Color Perception and Object Color Knowledge

Neuropsychologia. 2012 Jan;50(2):327-33. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.12.003. Epub 2011 Dec 14.


Sensorimotor theories of semantic memory require overlap between conceptual and perceptual representations. One source of evidence for such overlap comes from neuroimaging reports of co-activation during memory retrieval and perception; for example, regions involved in color perception (i.e., regions that respond more to colored than grayscale stimuli) are activated by retrieval of object color. One unanswered question from these studies is whether distinctions that are observed during perception are likewise observed during memory retrieval. That is, are regions defined by a chromaticity effect in perception similarly modulated by the chromaticity of remembered objects (e.g., lemons more than coal)? Subjects performed color perception and color retrieval tasks while undergoing fMRI. We observed increased activation during both perception and memory retrieval of chromatic compared to achromatic stimuli in overlapping areas of the left lingual gyrus, but not in dorsal or anterior regions activated during color perception. These results support sensorimotor theories but suggest important distinctions within the conceptual system.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology
  • Semantics
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology
  • Young Adult