Studium der Biologie an den Universitäten von Mainz, Sussex und Tübingen, Promotion in Tübingen über die Orientierung von Bienen. Nach Aufenthalten in Brasilien und Australien seit 1998 an der Universität Lund, da seit 2007 Professor für Sinnesbiologie. Innerhalb dieses Feldes untersucht Almut Kelber seit Jahren das Farbensehen verschiedener Tiere, darunter Schmetterlinge, Bienen, Vögel, Pferde und Seehunde. Besonderer Fokus liegt auf der Suche nach den Begrenzungen und den Anpassungen des Sehsystems an das Verhalten einer Art sowie and verschiendene ökologische Faktoren wie etwas die Lichtverhältnisse.

Abstract: Colour Vision in dim Light

In bright sunlight, we see the world in sparkling colours, but when night falls, colours fade away until, with less than a half moon, everything appears in 50 shades of grey. The reason for this lies in our duplex retina with three types of cones - noisy photoreceptors - and only one type of rods - receptors optimized for low noise. Colour discrimination is based on comparison of cone signals, and limited by receptor noise. Over a large intensity range, the level of receptor noise stays constant, but in dim light, photon shot noise statrts impairing colour discrimination, and the absolute threshold of cone-based vision is set by dark noise in cones. Like humans, other vertebrates with duplex retinae use colour-blind rod vision in dim light.
Nocturnal insects and vertebrates lacking rods have to use the same set of receptors day and night. They have evolved adaptations to increase the sensitivity of their eyes and photoreceptors, and to reduce receptor noise. This allows them to use chromatic vision in dimmer light intensities than humans. Frogs and toads that have two types of rod use opponent signals from rods to control phototaxis even at their visual threshold, at light intensities ten times darker than the absolute threshold of human vision. However, for tasks such as prey or mate choice, their colour discrimination abilities fail at brighter light intensities, only ten times darker than the humans colour vision threshold, limited by the dark noise in their cones.
In this presentation, I review what is known about dim-light colour vision and compare colour vision thresholds with the optical sensitivity of the photoreceptors in selected animal species with lens and compound eyes.



Kirsten Moana Thompson is Professor of Film and Director of Film Programme at Seattle University. Previously, she was Professor of Film Studies and Director of the Film Programme at Victoria University, in Wellington, New Zealand, as well as (and previously) Associate Professor and Director of the Film Program at Wayne State University in Detroit. She teaches and writes on animation and colour studies, as well as classical Hollywood cinema, German, New Zealand and Pacific studies. She is the author of Apocalyptic Dread: American Cinema at the Turn of the Millennium (SUNY Press, 2007); Crime Films: Investigating the Scene (Wallflower: 2007), and co-editor with Terri Ginsberg of Perspectives on German Cinema (GK Hall: NY, 1996). She is currently working on a new book on Colour, Visual Culture and Animation.

Abstract: Disney Animation and the Wonderful World of Colour

Disneys Animationskunst und die Wundervolle Welt der Farben

Kleine und große Filmfreunde lieben Walt Disney vor allem als Erfinder von klugen Mäusen und geizigen Enten oder aber durch herzergreifende Märchenfilme wie Schneewittchen oder Tiergeschichten wie Bambi. Vielen ist nicht bekannt, dass Walt Disney zu den treibenden Kräften bei der Entwicklung des us-amerikanischen Technicolor-Verfahrens zählte, das bis heute als bestes Farbfilmverfahren aller Zeiten gehandelt wird. Die Oppulenz und Brillianz der Technicolor-Farben inspirierten den Meister des vergnüglichen Trickfilms aber auch formal-ästhetisch zu Experimenten im Kino, aber auch auf der Bühne seiner Vergnügungsparks.

From the multiplane camera to animatronics, Disney has been always been a technological innovator but less is known about Disney's important developments in colour technology, from the Technicolour Silly Symphonies to his farsighted shift to colour television in the early sixties and the studio’s more recent innovations in theme park colour entertainment from The Fantasmic show to the Paint the Night Parade. This keynote will focus on "The Wonderful World of Colour" a nighttime entertainment spectacle that combines water, fire, laser light and colour with animation from Disney films that are projected on ephemeral water and mist screens created by hundreds of choreographed fountains. The show’s innovations in theatrical exhibition hybridise older entertainment forms with digital-controlled light and colour design and immersive effects, blending tourism, the amusement park and cinematic projection. I will examine the relationship between the transparent, translucent and opaque in the show’s ephemeral misty surfaces and related new media forms to ask: how might we understand colour animation not just as a technological medium but something which enlivens and transforms our world?


Anya Hurlbert is a Professor of Visual Neuroscience at the Newcastle University in the UK.
Her background is in physics, medicine and neuroscience, with her higher education and early career research experience taking place on both sides of the Atlantic. She graduated from Princeton University in 1980 with a BA in Physics, followed in 1981 by a Part III Diploma in Theoretical Physics and in 1982 an MA in Physiology from Cambridge University, where she held a Marshall Scholarship. In 1989, she received a PhD in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT, where she studied with Tomaso Poggio and Peter Schiller, and in 1990, an MD from Harvard Medical School. She then held a Vision Research Fellowship at Oxford University in Andrew Parker’s lab, before joining Physiological Sciences in the Faculty of Medical Sciences at Newcastle University in 1991 as a lecturer.

Having moved from Physiological Sciences to Psychology, she became acting Head of the Division of Psychology, Brain and Behaviour (Faculty of Science, Agriculture and Engineering) in 2003, and interim Head in 2007, helping to create the new School of Psychology in the Faculty of Medical Sciences. In 2004, she co-founded the Institute of Neuroscience with the late Professor Colin Ingram, and was co-Director of the Institute until 2014. In 2012, they established the Centre for Translational Systems Neuroscience with a Capital Award from the Wellcome Trust.

Abstract: The Colour of Paintings in a Contemporary Light

People tend to think of colour as an intrinsic property of objects – red apples, yellow bananas, green grass – not as the subjective, variable, perceptual phenomenon which it is. Paradoxically, the variability of colour arises partly from colour constancy, a stabilising mechanism by which the brain compensates for changes in the illumination spectra on objects. Although colour constancy is universal, the weightings people give to different components of the mechanism, and hence the overall strength of constancy, vary between individuals. As a result, striking differences in reported colour may emerge when the illumination spectrum changes or is ambiguous – as in #thedress.

Here I will discuss the role that colour constancy plays in people’s perception of paintings, both in terms of the artist’s intent in capturing the constant colour of objects (as in Moroni’s Portrait of a Lady) or the effects of changing illumination spectrum (as in Monet’s series paintings), and in terms of the illumination spectrum under which people view the paintings. For the latter, I will review experiments in which people view artworks illuminated by dynamically changing light from a bank of tuneable LED light sources, demonstrating, as in #thedress, that the colours people see in paintings vary widely. These experiments also highlight the fact that the colours we see, and the constancy with which we see them, must evolve along with the technology that enables new and ever-changing illuminations.


Karl Gegenfurtner studied Psychology at Regensburg University. Subsequently he obtained a Ph.D. degree from New York University, where he also spent his first PostDoc. In 1993 he moved to the Max-Planck-Institute for biological cybernetics in Tübingen, where he obtained his Habilitation in 1998 and a Heisenberg-Fellowship in the same year. In 2000 he moved to the University of Magdeburg and in 2001 to Giessen University, where he since then holds a full professorship for Psychology. The emphasis of Karl Gegenfurtner’s research is on information processing in the visual system. Specifically, he is concerned with the relationship between low level sensory processes, higher level visual cognition, and sensorimotor integration.
Karl Gegenfurtner is the head of the DFG Collaborative Research Center TRR 135 on the “Cardinal mechanisms of perception”. He was elected into the National Academy of Science Leopoldina in 2015.

Abstract: Mechanism of colour perception: From cones to cognition via constancy

The first stages of color vision are well understood. The spectral absorption functions of the cones in the retina have been standardized and even the genetic basis of individual variability is known. The second-stage, cone-opponent circuits of bipolar and ganglion cells has been characterized at the computational, anatomical and functional levels. However, the contributions color makes to high level vision and cognition are less well established. I will argue that there are mainly two functions of color in higher level vision. First, color makes a tremendous contribution to segmenting objects from their background, leading to quicker recognition of scenes and objects. Second, color contributes to visual memory, leading to better recall of scenes and objects, a function that is crucially mediated by color constancy.



Anna Franklin is Professor of Visual Perception and Cognition at the University of Sussex. She leads the Sussex Colour Group and the Sussex Baby Lab.

Her research aims to:

  1. Understand how we perceive and process colour
  2. Establish how colour perception and cognition develops
  3. Use colour as a testing ground for broader theoretical debates, such as how language and thought interact

She conducts experiments with participants from across the lifespan (infancy to adulthood) using a range of methods such as eye-tracking, psychophysics, colour science and the event-related potential approach. So far, she has led research projects on: the development of colour categorisation, the impact of colour term acquisition on colour perception, the origins of colour preference, and chromatic discrimination in children with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC). This research attempts to address fundamental issues in cognitive and developmental science. For example, her research on the development of colour categorisation addresses broader questions such as: how and when do categories form?; what is the relationship between categories in language and thought?; how are categories expressed in the brain? She has provided converging evidence that infants categorise colour which has contributed to a long-standing multi-disciplinary debate on whether the division of the colour spectrum into discrete categories (e.g., red, green, blue) in both language and thought is arbitrary or whether there are constraints on how and where categories form in the colour spectrum.

Abstract: Origins of Color Preference

Oder: Warum wir manche Farben lieben und andere nicht?

Anna Franklin geht der Frage nach, warum wir manche Farben lieben und andere nicht. Haben Farbpräferenzen etwas mit unserer Herkunftskultur zu tun oder mit der Orientierung an einer sozialen Gruppe, vielleicht mit dem Alter oder doch eher dem Geschlecht? Warum mögen so viele Menschen Blau, während Gelb vor allem in der westlichen Welt weniger auf Gegenliebe zu stoßen scheint. In einer Reihe von grundlegenden Studien ist Anna Franklin diesem komplexen Thema auf den Grund gegangen. Sie wird in ihrem Vortrag nicht nur aktuelle Forschungsergebnisse präsentieren, sondern auch wegweisende Fragestellungen für weiterführende Forschungsansätze stellen, die für die Neurobiologie, aber auch die Industrie relevant sind, nicht zuletzt, weil sie unser Konsumverhalten sowie unsere visuelle Kultur bestimmen.

Although it may seem that how much we like different colours is idiosyncratic, decades of research has established that some colours (e.g., blue) are in fact more likely to be preferred over others (e.g., dark yellow). It has been claimed that these colour preferences are ‘universal’ and various theories to account for colour preferences have been proposed (e.g., Palmer & Schloss, 2010; Hurlbert & Ling, 2007). At the heart of colour preference research has been a desire to reveal how it is that a surface of reflected light can appear to ‘hold affect’ (Zajonc, 1980). In this talk I will present a series of 7 studies which we have conducted that aim to further understand where colour preferences come from. These studies further investigate the relationship of colour preference and colour-object associations (Taylor & Franklin, 2012); identify the colour preferences of people from a non-industrialised culture (Taylor, Clifford & Franklin, 2013); relate adult colour preference to infants’ response to colour (Franklin, Bevis, Ling & Hurlbert, 2010; Taylor, Schloss, Palmer & Franklin, 2013; Skelton, Catchpole, Abbott, Bosten & Franklin, 2016); assess the impact of dichromacy on colour preference (Álvaro, Moreira, Lillo & Franklin, 2015) and investigate the neural correlates of colour preference using fMRI (Racey, Bird & Franklin, 2016). I will discuss the combined contribution of these studies to our understanding of colour preference, and I will also identify key questions for future lines of investigation.