Color matches between two small patches were made in a display containing ten larger regions of different chromaticities. The spatial organization of the ten regions was varied while keeping constant the immediate surround of each patch as well as the space-average chromaticity of the entire stimulus. Different spatial arrangements were designed to alter the perceptual organization inferred by the observer without changing the ensemble of chromaticities actually in view. For example, one arrangement of the ten regions was consistent with five surfaces under two distinct illuminations, with one edge within the display (an “apparent illumination edge”) dividing the stimulus into two areas, one under illuminant A and the other under illuminant C. Another spatial arrangement had the ten regions configured to induce an observer to infer ten surfaces under a single illumination. When the ten regions were arranged with an apparent illumination edge, the patch within the area of illuminant C was perceived as bluer than when the same patch and immediate surround were presented without an apparent illumination edge. The results are accounted for by positing that observers group together regions sharing the same inferred illumination, with a consequent effect on color perception: A fixed patch-within-surround shifts in hue and saturation toward the perceived illumination. We suggest that the change in color perception in a complex scene that results from a difference in real illumination may be caused by the inferred illumination at the perceptual level, not directly by the physical change in the light absorbed by photoreceptors.
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