Even before the acquisition of language, infants aged between five and seven months are able to categorize colors in their brain, according to Japanese researchers.
A long-held theory called 'Sapir-Wharf hypothesis' claims that languages define our perceptions. Color perception is also considered to be subject to this theory since colors are called by their names in daily communications.
‘The brain activity of 5 to 7 month-old infants increased significantly when the colors of blue and green were alternated.’
However, according to the new study, the category of colors can be independent of language, at least in the early stage of development in an infant's visual system.
The researchers from Chuo University, Japan Women's University and Tohoku University tested 5-7 months old infants to see if brain activity is different for colors in different categories.
The brain activity was measured by a near infrared specrtoscopy technique which gives comfortable measurement of brain activity in infants.
The study, found that the brain activity increased significantly when the colors of blue and green were alternated, while there was no significant reaction to the alternation of different shades of green.
The difference was observed in both left and right hemispheres of the brain.
A similar difference was found in adult participants with no significant lateralisation. Since language related cortical areas reside in the left hemisphere in most right-handed adults, the observed brain activity had no direct relation to language processing.
In addition, brain activity caused by categorical color differences was not found in the occipital region, which is known to play a significant role in the early stage of visual processing.