OSA's Digital Library

Journal of the Optical Society of America

Journal of the Optical Society of America

  • Vol. 39, Iss. 6 — Jun. 1, 1949
  • pp: 427–434

A Comparison of Electrical and Psychophysical Determinations of the Spectral Sensitivity of the Human Eye


JOSA, Vol. 39, Issue 6, pp. 427-434 (1949)

View Full Text Article

Acrobat PDF (1516 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



Electrical responses of the human retina have been measured by the use of an electrode mounted on a contact lens. The form and magnitude of such responses have been determined for stimulation by filtered lights having various dominant wave-lengths. Two sets of spectral sensitivity data, one for the dark-adapted eye and the other for the light-adapted, have been obtained by computing the intensity of stimulation necessary at each wave-length to arouse an electrical response of a given small magnitude. Comparable data have been obtained in psychophysical experiments in which the same filter combinations and closely similar methods of computation have been employed. The electrical data, for both the light-adapted and the dark-adapted eye, agree much more closely with the psycho-physically determined scotopic sensitivity curve than with the photopic. It appears, however, that lights of the shorter wave-lengths are somewhat more effective in arousing electrical responses than the scotopic sensitivity curve would predict.

LORRIN A. RIGGS, RICHARD N. BERRY, and MATTHEW WAYNER, "A Comparison of Electrical and Psychophysical Determinations of the Spectral Sensitivity of the Human Eye," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 39, 427-434 (1949)

Sort:  Author  |  Journal  |  Reset


  1. L. A. Riggs, Proc. Soc. Exper. Biol. Med. 48, 204 (1941).
  2. I.E.S. Lighting Handbook (Illuminating Engineering Society, New York, 1947).
  3. W. S. Stiles and T. Smith, Proc. Phys. Soc. Lond. 56, 251 (1944).
  4. G. Wald, Science 101, 653 (1945).
  5. See Reference 1 above.
  6. D. R. Griffin, R. Hubbard, and G. Wald, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 37, 546 (1947).
  7. We are indebted to Professor H. E. Farnsworth of the Department of Physics, Brown University, for lending us the pyrometer used in these experiments.
  8. G. P. Harnwell and J.J. Livingood, Experimental Atomic Physics (McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York, 1933), p. 206.
  9. It may be noted here that some erroneous filter calibrations were made earlier on a G. E. recording spectrophotometer. This instrument, as Middleton has recently pointed out [J. Opt. Soc. Am. 38, 74 (1948)], is unsuited unless specially modified for the measurement of transmission of samples which have a high specular reflectance.
  10. See Reference 3 above.
  11. E. D. Adrian, J. Physiol. 104, 84 (1945), and J. Physiol. 105, 24 (1946).
  12. E. P. Johnson, J. Exper. Psych., in press (1949).
  13. L. A. Riggs and E. P. Johnson, J. Exper. Psych., in press (1949).
  14. These curves have been redrawn from those appearing in the original articles, References 4 and 3 above, respectively. For purposes of comparison a sensitivity of unity has been assigned to all values at 509 mµ.
  15. See Reference 4 above.
  16. Benford, Lloyd, and Schwarz, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 38, 445 (1948).

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited