Perception of hue has been at the center of the debates on the relation between language and thought due to the diversity of color terms in the lexicon of different languages. In this article, we review empirical evidence on the language-cognition interface in the color domain. This discussion takes two theoretical positions regarding language and thought interactions, linguistic relativity and universalism, as a basis and asks whether color terms in language affect color perception or post-perceptual decision processes rather than perception itself. Several behavioral, developmental, electrophysiological, neuroimaging and neuromodulation studies have found language-related differences in color processing. In these studies, people have an advantage in visually discriminating colors labeled by different linguistic terms compared to colors labeled by the same linguistic terms. However, the fact that these differences disappear when access to verbal codes is prevented by behavioral methods or neuromodulation strongly suggests that this advantage does not stem from deep and permanent changes in color perception due to language. Taken together, these differences seem to be best explained by momentary and temporary interactions between visual and verbal codes during post-perceptual decisions during color processing.
Color perception, language-cognition interface, language and thought, visual perception