School of Psychology

The Sussex Colour Group

Coloured brain, child with painted hands in various colours and colour wheel

Welcome to The Sussex Colour Group

The Sussex Colour Group is a group of researchers, led by Professor Anna Franklin, in the School of Psychology at the University of Sussex. We conduct research on colour perception and cognition in order to understand how humans see and interact with colour, and to address broader theoretical issues in cognitive and developmental science. The three main aims of our research are to:

  1. Understand how humans perceive and process colour
  2. Establish how colour perception and cognition develops
  3. Use colour as a testing ground for fundamental theoretical debates in cognitive and developmental science

The members of our group have research backgrounds in Cognitive Neuroscience, Developmental Psychology and Vision Science, and we use a diverse range of approaches and methods in our research. These methods include psychophysics, EEG, fMRI and cross-cultural fieldwork. We believe that a lot can be understood about perception and cognition by investigating its development, and therefore we also conduct studies with infants and toddlers in our Baby Lab (The Sussex Baby Lab).

Questions that we investigate are:

  • How is the spectrum of colour categorised by the human observer, and how are colour categories expressed in the brain?
  • Why do children find it difficult to learn colour terms?
  • Is there a biological basis to colour preference, and how does colour preference relate to colour-object associations?
  • How is the coloured appearance of an object kept constant under changing illumination?
  • Why do children with Autism Spectrum Conditions commonly have obsessions with particular colours?
  • Do speakers of different colour lexicons see colour differently?
  • What is the influence of colour on cognition and behaviour?
  • How do infants perceive and categorise colour?

A major source of our funding currently comes from a European Research Council Starter Grant (Franklin, Principal Investigator, €1.48 million). This grant funds a 5 year project titled ‘The Origin and Impact of Colour Categories in Language and Thought’ (project ‘CATEGORIES’). We are also leading an ERC funded Proof of Concept project on a test of colour vision deficiency for the under 5s.  Our research has also recently been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Action Medical Research and Akzo Nobel.

If you have questions about our research, would like to join our team or work together on a project, please do not hesitate to contact us (


ERC logo ESRC logoDAAD