The geometry that describes the relationship among colors is unsettled despite centuries of study. Here we present a new approach, using multivariate analyses of direct measurements of brain activity obtained with magnetoencephalography to reverse-engineer the geometry of the neural representation of color space. The analyses depend upon determining similarity relationships among the neural responses to different colors and assessing how these relationships change in time. To evaluate the approach, we relate patterns of neural activity to universal patterns in color naming. Control experiments showed that responses to color words could not decode activity elicited by color stimuli. The results suggest that three patterns of color naming can be accounted for by decoding the similarity relationships in the neural representation of color: the association of warm colors such as reds and oranges with "light" and cool colors such as blues and greens with "dark"; the greater precision among all languages in naming warm colors compared to cool colors; and the preeminence of red.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience