Professor Anna Franklin

Professor Anna Franklin

Professor of Visual Perception And Cognition

Telephone: 01273 678885

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Anna Franklin

Categorical encoding of colour in the brain

Although colour is continuous, humans group the millions of discriminable colours into discrete categories (e.g., red, green, yellow and blue). Over the years, there has been extensive multi-disciplinary debate on whether colour categories arise from biological constraints (e.g., they are inherent in our visual system) or whether they are arbitrary linguistic constructs that arise from culture and communication.

The Sussex Colour Group in the School of Psychology is investigating the origin of colour categories in a five year European Research Council funded project called ‘CATEGORIES’.

One important question related to the CATEGORIES project is how colour categories are represented in the brain. This question could form the basis of a PhD project which would use cognitive neuroscience methods (e.g., ERP, fMRI and TMS) to investigate the time course and neural basis of colour categorisation.

The PhD could also investigate the phenomenon of unique hues (hues which are said to be ‘pure’ and not contain any other colour) using these techniques. The doctoral student would be joining a team of seven researchers that include a post-doctoral researcher with expertise in cognitive neuroscience methods.

The PhD would be suited to a candidate who has an undergraduate or Masters degree in Psychology, Neuroscience or Cognitive Science, and who has an interest in how the brain represents visual information. 

Key references

  • Bird, C., Berens, S., Horner, A. & Franklin, A. (2014). Categorical encoding of color in the brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111, 4590-4595
  • Clifford, A., Franklin, A., Holmes, A., Drivonikou, G.V., Ozgen, E., & Davies, I.R.L. (2012). Neural correlates of acquired color category effects. Brain and Cognition, 80, 126-143
  • Drivonikou, G.V., Kay, P., Regier, T., Ivry, R., Gilbert, A., Franklin, A. & Davies, I.R.L. (2007). Further evidence of Whorfian effects to the right visual field. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 104, 1097-1102
  • Franklin, A., Drivonikou, G.V., Clifford, A., Kay, P., Regier, T. & Davies, I.R.L. (2008). Lateralization of categorical perception of color changes with color term acquisition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 47, 18221-18225 
  • Franklin, A., Drivonikou, G.V., Bevis, L., Davies, I.R.L., Kay, P. & Regier, T. (2008). Categorical perception of color is lateralized to the right hemisphere in infants, but to the left hemisphere in adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 105, 3221-3225.

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