Color improves object recognition in normal and low vision

J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform. 1993 Aug;19(4):899-911. doi: 10.1037//0096-1523.19.4.899.


Does color improve object recognition? If so, is the improvement greater for images with low spatial resolution in which there is less shape information? Do people with low visual acuity benefit more from color? Three experiments measured reaction time (RT) and accuracy for naming food objects displayed in 4 types of images: gray scale or color, and high or low spatial resolution (produced by blur). Normally sighted Ss had faster RTs with color, but the improvement was not significantly greater for images with low spatial resolution. Low vision subjects were also faster with color, but the difference did not depend significantly on acuity. In 2 additional experiments, it was found that the faster RTs for color stimuli were related to objects' prototypicality but not to their color diagnosticity. It was concluded that color does improve object recognition, and the mechanism is probably sensory rather than cognitive in origin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attention*
  • Color Perception*
  • Discrimination Learning*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Reaction Time
  • Vision, Low / psychology*