Can Babies Recognize Different Colors?

Along with numbers, letters, and shapes, one of the earliest things we’re taught as children are the colors of the rainbow. However, a recent study suggests that humans are actually born with the ability to recognize colors. No, we don’t come out of the womb knowing that red is called red or blue is called blue, but research does show that infants are capable of distinguishing colors from one another and separating them into different categories.

In a color research experiment conducted by scientist Anna Franklin at the University of Sussex in England, infants aged 4-6 months were shown 14 different colors from a color wheel. After being shown the same color several times, they were then shown a different color. If the infant gazed at this new color longer than the previous one, this meant that it recognized it as a new color. This is concluded using something known as “infant looking time,” which is the idea that infants will stare at something longer if it’s unfamiliar to them.

While it was previously thought that our separation of colors might be an arbitrary social construct, this experiment suggests differently. After studying the reactions of 179 infants, the results of the study showed that infants can separate colors into five different categories: red, yellow, green, blue, and purple. This innate ability to distinguish colors may have proven useful to our earliest ancestors when having to recognize “safe” vs “dangerous” colors for certain situations in the wild, such as encountering poisonous plants or animals.

Although we might be able to recognize only five different colors as infants, a spectrophotometer from Konica Minolta Sensing can do much, much more. A portable spectrophotometer such as the CM-M6 or the CM-25cG can measure any color you put in front of it, no matter the lighting, shape, or texture. And unlike an infant, they don’t have to gaze at the color for very long to study it – a portable spectrophotometer from Konica Minolta Sensing can make measurements in just a matter of seconds, sometimes even quicker. Take a look at the wide range of spectrophotometers available from Konica Minolta Sensing today!

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