Washington, May 17: Neuroscientists have finally decoded why different people see same colours differently in "The Dress" that took internet by storm in February this year.
When someone looked at the "The Dress" that went viral on social media, some saw blue and black stripes while others observed white and gold stripes.
In a survey of 1,400 individuals, neuroscientist Bevil Conway and his team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that people fall into one of three camps: a blue and black camp, a white and gold camp, and a smaller blue and brown group.
This shows that the perception of the dress is variously stable.
"By studying the pair of colours in 'The Dress', we can answer the age-old question: Do you see colours the way that I see them? And the answer is sometimes 'no'," Conway said.
Another finding from the survey was that the perception differed by age and sex.
Older people and women were more likely to report seeing "The Dress" as white and gold, while younger people were more likely to say that it was black and blue.
Conway believes that these differences in perception may correspond to the type of light that individuals' brains expect to be in their environment.
For example, people who perceive "The Dress" as white and gold may have just been exposed to natural daylight, while those who saw a black and blue garment may spend most of their time surrounded by artificial light sources.
The brains of those who saw a brown and blue dress are likely used to something in between.
The big open question is what causes these differences in the population.
One theory is to consider how light is contaminated by outside illumination, such as a blue sky or incandescent light.
"Your visual system has to decide whether it gets rid of shorter, bluer wavelengths of light or the longer, redder wavelengths, and that decision may change how you see 'The Dress'," the author explained.
The study was published in Current Biology.