The surface-mode property of “blackness” is induced by simultaneous contrast with an adjacent, more luminant surround. As numerous studies have shown, the degree of blackness induced within an achromatic test field is a
function of the relative luminance of the adjacent chromatic inducing field, but not of its hue. But in the converse case of chromatic test fields, susceptibility to blackening has been reported to vary with wavelength. The present study investigates this possibility, that some wavelengths are more susceptible. We also questioned whether “white” and “black” sensory components function as opposites in blackness appearance. We recorded the appearance of a
central monochromatic test field of constant luminance (10 cd/m2), with wavelength ranging across the visible spectrum, while a broadband white annulus was set to six luminance levels ranging across three log steps. Three color-normal observers followed a color-naming technique. All six opponent-hue names and their combinations were response options; blackness and whiteness in the test field could therefore be reported independently. Of primary
interest were the achromatic responses. When represented within a multidimensional space, these revealed the “white-to-black” dimension but in addition a quality ~dimension! of “desaturation.” Compared against chromatic
properties of the test field, the results provide evidence that blackness is a function of inducing field brightness (not luminance). This result is in accord with observations made by Shinomori et al. (1997) using a different procedure. We conclude that blackness induction occurs at a stage of visual processing subsequent to the origin of the brightness signal from a combination of opponent-process channels.
Bimler, D. L.; Paramei, G. V.; Izmailov, C. A. (2006). A whiter shade of pale, a blacker shade of dark: Parameters of spatially induced blackness. Visual Neuroscience. Vol. 23, No. 3-4, pp. 579-582.