Scientists have shown that blind people are less likely to associate yellow with bananas and red with a stop sign than sighted people, but they offer similar conclusions and explanations about the colors of real and fictional objects. To understand this characteristic, everyday life in society turned out to be enough.
Empiricist philosophers such as John Locke of the 17th century believed that knowledge was based on sensory experience and derived from sensations. According to this logic, people born blind can learn arbitrary facts about colors, but cannot fully comprehend them. However, a group of neuroscientists and psychologists from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Yale University (USA) conducted an experiment that showed that initially blind people, in fact, know color in the same way as everyone else.
An article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that blind and sighted adults were first asked about the color of different random objects (fruits, plants, gems, dollars, pen, stop sign), why they have such a color, as well as the likelihood that two similar objects will be of the same color.
While blind participants in the study did not always agree with others on the facts - for example, that the cucumber is green - their reasoning about why these vegetables are that color and whether two cucumbers can be the same color turned out to be similar. The results did not change depending on the object - be it coins, wedding dresses, and so on. Both the sighted and the blind showed the same depth of understanding and explanation of why a particular object has a certain color and whether it has any function.
One illustrative example is the color of polar bears. Respondents with sight said that these animals are white to blend in with the snow. At the same time, quite a few blind respondents said that bears have dark fur - to absorb heat and stay warm - that is, they reasoned their point of view.
Then the scientists asked the volunteers to predict the color of imaginary objects. “We wanted to understand how people think about things they’ve never encountered before,” the researchers explained. "A great way to test how people understand colors."
Such objects - like a green gem the size of a hand or a triangular gadget the size of a thumb - seemed to be found on a remote island, whose population had its own language, culture, customs, and so on. As a result, both groups of subjects made identical conclusions: therefore, their knowledge of color was translated into new examples and did not depend on memorization, the authors of the work considered.
In the future, experts want to find out how the brain controls the understanding of color and when blind or sighted children acquire knowledge about it. “Presumably this happens in casual learning through speech and reading, but when exactly? Do blind and sighted children learn this information in the same way? Is there a developmental difference if the child does it at an earlier age before starting to speak? Do blind children understand colors only after they have learned to speak? " - summed up the scientists. By the way, earlier the same research team explained how blind people learn about the appearance of animals.