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Journal of the Optical Society of America

Journal of the Optical Society of America

  • Vol. 63, Iss. 9 — Sep. 1, 1973
  • pp: 1037–1043

Implications of the minimally distinct border

Robert M. Boynton  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA, Vol. 63, Issue 9, pp. 1037-1043 (1973)

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The minimally distinct border (MDB) method for comparing two fields of differing chromaticity was first reported by Boynton and Kaiser in 1968, and has been the subject of further experimental and theoretical investigation since that time. The evidence suggests that the MDB criterion is achieved when the two fields being compared produce equal effects upon the achromatic channels of the photopic visual system. The comparisons prove to be transitive and Abney’s law is strictly obeyed; spectral sensitivity evaluated by the MDB is very similar to that obtained by flicker photometry. An advantage of the MDB over flicker photometry is that the strength of the border at the MDB setting can be evaluated. This is done either by border matches with an achromatic comparison field, or with direct subjective estimates. At the MDB setting, the more saturated of two fields appears brighter than the other one. This implies that the chromatic channels of the visual system contribute to brightness as well as to chromaticness. The MDB criterion provides a new method for saturation scaling: Chromatic stimuli are juxtaposed in turn with white, and the strength of the border at the MDB setting is taken in each case as an index of saturation. More generally, any two fields can be compared by this method, as we have done with a matrix of 16 spectral stimuli plus white, employed in all possible combinations. Because the results can be accurately displayed in a two-dimensional euclidean space, the MDB method also shows potential as a new basis for color scaling.

Robert M. Boynton, "Implications of the minimally distinct border," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 63, 1037-1043 (1973)

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  1. P. K. Kaiser, R. M. Boynton, and P. A. Herzberg. Vision Res. 11, 953 (1971).
  2. G. Wagner and R. M. Boynton, J. Opt. Soc. Am. 62, 1508 (1972).
  3. R. M. Boynton and P. K. Kaiser. Science 161, 366 (1968).
  4. The blue field should appear more saturated than the yellow one (which would be true if both were monochromatic). The basis for the greater saturation of the blue field lies in its ability to activate a greater ratio of chromatic to achromatic elements than the yellow one. The peripheral basis for the higher saturation of blue could lie in the higher ratio of chromatic to achromatic responsivity, explicit in various quantitative theories of color vision in which two chromatic channels and one achromatic channel are assumed to be utilized in chromatic information processing. These differences are then reflected in higher stages, such as the lateral geniculate nucleus, where DeValois and his associates [J. Opt. Soc. Am. 56, 966 (1966)] have found convincing electrophysiological evidence supporting the existence of such channels. They find, indeed, that a monochromatic blue produces more activity in the chromatic channels, relative to a monochromatic yellow, when the activity of the achromatic channels has been equated. The units about which we speculate here are imagined to underly directly the experience of color and are probably, but not necessarily, located at a higher level of visual processing than the lateral-geniculate stage.
  5. The assumptions of linear summation and cancellation, as made in this example, are probably too simple. But these details do not affect the general argument that is being advanced.
  6. R. M. Boynton and T. S. Greenspon. Vision Res. 12, 495 (1972).
  7. R. M. Boynton and H. G. Wagner, in Color Metrics, edited by J. J. Vos, L. F. C. Friele, and P. L. Walraven. Proceedings of the 1971 AIC Symposium on Color Metrics (AIC/Holland, c/o Institute for Perception TNO, 1972), Ch. 2, pp. 26–35.
  8. J. B. Kruskal, Psychometrika 29, 28 (1964).

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