Does the chromatic Mach bands effect exist?

Avital Tsofe, Hedva Spitzer*, Shmuel Einav

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The achromatic Mach bands effect is a well-known visual illusion, discovered over a hundred years ago. This effect has been investigated thoroughly, mainly fbr its brightness aspect. The existence of chromatic Mach bands, however, has been disputed. In recent years it has been reported that chromatic Mach bands are not perceived under controlled iso-luminance conditions. However, here we show that a variety of chromatic Mach bands, consisting of chromatic and achromatic regions, separated by a saturation ramp, can be clearly perceived under iso-luminance and iso-brightness conditions. In this study, observers' eye movements were recorded under iso-brightness conditions. Several observers were tested for their ability to perceive the chromatic Mach bands effect and its magnitude, across different cardinal and non-cardinal chromatic Mach bands stimuli. A computational model of color adaptation, which predicted color induction and color constancy, successfully predicts this variation of chromatic Mach bands. This has been tested by measuring the distance of the data points from the "achromatic point" and by calculating the shift of the data points from predicted complementary lines. The results suggest that the chromatic Mach bands effect is a specific chromatic induction effect.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number6
StatePublished - 30 Jun 2009


  • Chromatic Mach bands
  • Chromatic adaptation
  • Computational model


Dive into the research topics of 'Does the chromatic Mach bands effect exist?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this