"New" colours possible?

yan king yin (no spam please) y.k.y at lycos.com
Thu Nov 1 02:49:39 EST 2001

Your question is interesting.  I guess it is safe to say that the perception
of a color corresponds to a particular activation pattern in the visual cortex.
Stimulating the visual cortex will invoke only existing colors and it is unlikely
to result in colors that are entirely new.

On the other hand, it is theoretically possible to connect the brain to some
external modules and create new senses.  My guess is that if we innervate
higher association cortical areas (auditory / visual / etc) with external
modules then we can invoke existing sensations, whereas if we _add_ more
neural circuitry (eg by implanting neurons) to the association areas then we
can create new senses.

I think by looking at how ocular dominance columns are formed, we can get
a glimpse of how the associative areas develop.  There's a critical time
window of development during which neural circuits are established, and
after that period the connections are not so plastic.  Too bad we dont have
memories of that period.  The challenge for us is how to reprogram neurons
to form new connections again.

Im not so much interested in creating new senses per se, but my goal is to
develop the isolated brain support system, and then connect it to some
external interface.  This probably will involve making new innervations by
implanted neurons.  Well, this may sound like science fiction but im determined
and i think we can do it.


"Urs Enke" <urs.enke at web.de>:
> For some years now I've wondered
> -- whether the (red-green-blue-mixable) colours we know are all there are in
> this universe, and if not,
> -- whether it might be possible to neurologically change the visual cortex
> (or whatever necessary) to create the sensation of other colours, and
> -- whether there has been any research suggesting that other animals are
> actually seeing different colours than we do.
> I am neither talking of broadening the EM-spectrum we can see by changing
> the eyes' perception (as this would supposedly simply distribute our known
> "rainbow colors" over that new spectrum), nor of mixing pseudo-new colours
> from the base colours that we already know. Also, I wouldn't consider any
> eye-related limitations essential, as I really mean directly tapping into
> one's brain.
> I'd be glad to get any feedback, be it on physical possibility, neurological
> practicability or philosophical thoughts. Thanks in advance for brightening
> or dimming my hopes to see "Color X" before I die... ;-)

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