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I know that individuals who have color-blindness or complete blindness, are not able to see as vast an array of colors as most. I do understand that they can distinguish shading (dark vs. light), but I'm curious if in their dreams if they are able to experience the vibrancy of colors (since it's not delivered via the optic nerve, but rather the hippocampus)?? Would they be able to recognize color if they did (if they had blindness or colorblindness their entire lives?)

I am by no means an expert in vision or dreams so I maybe misunderstanding this completely. Please feel free to correct me, and explain how color is perceived both through physical vision and then internally as in dreams.

  • Since their brain has never learned what the colors look like (i.e. it has no references), I doubt very much that a color blind individual could dream in color. I'd also expect that a totally blind person could only dream within the world their brain has become familiar with, and therefore, not actually dream in images. – BillDOe Jan 9 '17 at 21:03
  • Complete color blindness is very rare. Most color blind individuals are either red-green color blind or blue-yellow, meaning they can see colors but they have difficulty distinguishing between colors in those spectrums. – Carey Gregory Jan 9 '17 at 23:46
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Humans (and many mammals, for that matter) are not born knowing how to use our eyes. During the first month we can only discern vague shapes and shadows beyond much more than a foot or so, though some color development takes place during that time. (References here and here.)

I won't go into anymore detail; the point being that the brain of a person who is born blind would never learn how to process images. And without having that experience, they would not have context in which to place those images into a dream. I think it would be reasonable to conclude that a person blind since birth could only dream in the context of their own experiences (i.e. a non-sighted world).

Similarly, a color blind (or more accurately color deficient) person could not dream in any colors they have no experience with. For example, if someone couldn't see green, then they could not see that or yellow (yellow being a combination of red and green). Since they have no experience with those colors (i.e. they have no idea what they look like), they could not have dreams with those colors in them.

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