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Young-von Helmholtz three colour theory

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A theory of colour perception presented by Thomas Young in 1802 and later established psycho-physiologically by von Helmholtz.

According to the Young-Helmholtz theory, vision depends on the three different sets of retinal fibres responsible for perception of red, green, and violet. The loss of either red, green, or violet as colour perceptive elements in the retina causes an inability to perceive a primary colour or any colour of which it forms a part.


  • Th. Young:
    On the theory of light and colours.
    Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1802, 92: 12-48.
  • H. von Helmholtz:
    Über die Theorie der zusammengesetzten Farben.
    Archiv für Anatomie, Physiologie und wissenschaftliche Medizin, Berlin, 1850: 461-482. Handbuch der physiologischen Optik.<(i> Leipzig, 1867.

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