OSA's Digital Library

Journal of the Optical Society of America

Journal of the Optical Society of America

  • Vol. 71, Iss. 6 — Jun. 1, 1981
  • pp: 705–718

Flicker photometric study of chromatic adaptation: selective suppression of cone inputs by colored backgrounds

A. Eisner and D. I. A. MacLeod  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA, Vol. 71, Issue 6, pp. 705-718 (1981)

View Full Text Article

Acrobat PDF (2108 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



Flicker photometric equivalence is both additive and transitive when the test and standard are alternated upon a relatively more intense colored background. When the balance of red versus green cone excitation from the background is unequal, the contribution of one cone type to flicker photometric spectral sensitivity may be depressed in relation to that of the other by at least 1 order of magnitude more than Weber’s law predicts. The resultant spectral sensitivity is determined predominantly by only one class of cone. The cone spectral sensitivities of normals are then seen to be the same as those of dichromats, although there is some individual variation. A model is developed to explain this surprising phenomenon.

© 1981 Optical Society of America

A. Eisner and D. I. A. MacLeod, "Flicker photometric study of chromatic adaptation: selective suppression of cone inputs by colored backgrounds," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 71, 705-718 (1981)

Sort:  Author  |  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset


  1. W. A. H. Rushton, "From nerves to eyes," in The Neurosciences: Paths of Discovery, F. G. Worden, J. P. Swazey, and G. Anderson, eds. (MIT, Cambridge, Mass., 1975), pp. 277–292.
  2. W. S. Stiles, Mechanisms of Colour Vision (Academic, New York, 1978).
  3. K. Kranda and P. E. King-Smith, "Detection of coloured stimuli by independent linear systems," Vision Res. 19, 733–745 (1979).
  4. P. E. King-Smith and D. Carden, "Luminance and opponent color contributions to visual detection and adaptation and to temporal and spatial integration," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 66, 709–717 (1976).
  5. S. L. Guth and H. R. Lodge, "Heterochromatic additivity, foveal spectral sensitivity and a new color model," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 63, 450–462 (1973).
  6. E. N. Pugh, Jr., "The nature of the π1 colour mechanism of W. S. Stiles," J. Physiol. 257, 713–747 (1976).
  7. E. N. Pugh, Jr., and J. D. Mollon, "A theory of the π1 and π3 color mechanisms of Stiles," Vision Res. 19, 293–312 (1979).
  8. R. M. Boynton and D. N. Whitten, "Visual adaptation in monkey cones: recordings of late receptor potentials," Science 170, 1423–1425 (1970).
  9. D. A. Baylor and A. L. Hodgkin, "Changes in time scale and sensitivity in turtle photo-receptors," J. Physiol. 242, 729–758 (1974).
  10. H. DeVries, "The luminosity curve of the eye as determined by measurement with the flickerphotometer," Physica 14, 319–348 (1948).
  11. A. Eisner, "The contribution of the different cone types to luminance while the eye is adapted to colored backgrounds," Ph.D. dissertation (University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, Calif., 1979).
  12. L. Sirovich and I. Abramov, "Photopigments and pseudo-pigments," Vision Res. 17, 5–16 (1977).
  13. For any given background the sensitivities from each session were multiplied by a normalizing factor before the between-sessions SEM were computed. This translation minimizes the small, but almost inevitable, changes in sensitivity that are due to changes in the apparatus and in the subject's position between sessions. The remaining variance after translation is therefore a more accurate measure of any variation in relative spectral sensitivity.
  14. Thus far we have verified Abney's law only for lights that do not elicit a blue cone contribution to luminance. But we have shown [A. Eisner and D. I. A. MacLeod, "Blue sensitive cones do not contribute to luminance," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 70, 121–123 (1980)] that blue cones do not contribute to FPSµ(λ) even with modest midwavelength adapting fields that selectively densitize red and green cones.
  15. J. J. Vos and P. L. Walraven, "On the derivation of the foveal receptor primaries," Vision Res. 11, 799–818 (1971).
  16. Although the brightest backgrounds in Table I bleach 5–10% of the visual pigment in the predominating cones, self-screening was not allowed for, since the corrections needed never exceed ±0.005 log unit across the spectral range examined. This assumes peak pigment densities of 0.45 and a half-bleach intensity of 30,000 td for white light [M. Hollins and M. Alpern,Dark adaptation and visual pigment regeneration in human conesJ. Gen. Physiol. 62, 430–447 (1973)
  17. Suitable coefficients for fitting the data by using different values of n were found by constraining the fits to be exact at λ = 540 am and λ = 620 am. Subject to this constraint, the least-squares value of n was calculated as the value for which the sum of the deviations of log sensitivity from prediction, each weighted by its derivative with respect to n, was zero; this gave n λ 1.03. From the rms errors of prediction, the probability of the observed data could be derived as a function of n. The resulting 95% limits for n were 0.92 and 1.18. It should be stressed that, whereas this implies that the summed time-varying signals from each cone type are nearly linear with test stimulus intensity, the data place no strong constraint on the extent of nonlinearity as a function of total intensity, since the test increments were always small in relation to the steady background.
  18. Despite the small number of observers, the evidence for clustering is statistically significant. In the larger cluster of five observers, relative sensitivity to red and green is so uniform that even if all the observed variation between observers were due to variation in the wavelength of peak absorption in the red cones, the rms interobserver variation in that wavelength would be only 0.3 nm. A good estimate of the standard deviation of peak absorption wavelength between observers in a population of deuteranopes is 2.8 nm [based on the data of M. Alpern and T. Wake, "Cone pigments in human deutan vision defects," J. Physiol. 266, 595–612 (1977) and Alpern and Pugh (Ref. 19)]. Reference to the chi-square distribution for 4 degrees of freedom shows that the probability of a standard deviation of 0.3 nm or less in a sample of five from a population standard deviation of 2.8 nm is only 0.03%; the probability that at least one group of five in a sample of seven will be as uniform is only 0.6%. The agreement between the remaining two observers is equally striking.
  19. M. Alpern and E. N. Pugh, Jr., "Variation in the action spectrum of erythrolabe among deuteranopes," J. Physiol. 266, 613–646 (1977).
  20. Both JW and RM, the two males whose data form the smaller cluster, have a low density of macular pigment. JW is an experienced observer who has great difficulty in eliciting Maxwell's spot. For both JW and RM, pure green cone spectral sensitivities derived from FPG566(λ) are broader than G(λ) for 520 nm ≤ λ ≤ 530 nm by the same value as the discrepancies in Fig. 7, which in turn are about proportional to the values for average density of macular pigment tabulated in G. Wyszecki and W. S. Stiles, Color Science (Wiley, New York, 1967), p. 219.
  21. V. C. Smith and J. Pokorny, "Spectral sensitivity of color-blind observers and the cone photopigments," Vision Res. 12, 2059–2071 (1972).
  22. W. A. H. Rushton and H. D. Baker, "Red/green sensitivity in normal vision," Vision Res. 4, 75–85 (1964).
  23. O. Estévez and C. R. Cavonius, "Human color perception and Stiles' π mechanisms," Vision Res. 17, 417–422 (1977).
  24. J. K. Bowmaker et al., "The visual pigments of rods and cones in the rhesus monkey," J. Physiol. 274, 329–348 (1978).
  25. C. Sigel and E. N. Pugh, "Stiles's π5 color mechanism: tests of field displacement and additivity properties." J. Opt. Soc. Am. 70, 71–81 (1980).
  26. This factor differs from the corresponding entry in Table 1. The difference may reflect random error, which perhaps elevated the estimates in Table 1, or it may reflect small nonlinearities or cone response phase differences. In any case, the suppression of the red cone contribution to FPS619(λ) is profound even for tests at the red end of the spectrum. We used the Kodak specification of 678 nm for the Wratten 70. The exact equivalent wavelength of the particular filter used in the experiment is not at all critical in establishing a profound depression in the red cone contribution, although it may change the precise estimate of this depression. Any wavelength greater than 650 nm would suffice to establish profound depression. Wavelengths shorter than this would imply negative weights.
  27. G. S. Brindley, "The effects on colour vision of adaptation to very bright lights," J. Physiol. 122, 352–350 (1953).
  28. P. L. Walraven, A. M. van Hout, and H. J. Leebeek, "Fundamental response curves of a normal and a deuteranomalous observer derived from chromatic adaptation data," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 56, 125–127 (1966).
  29. P. Gouras and E. Zrenner, "Enhancement of luminance flicker by color-opponent mechanisms," Science 205, 587–589 (1979).
  30. F. S. Werblin, "Synaptic interactions mediating bipolar response in the retina of the tiger salamander," in Vertebrate Photoreception, H. B. Barlow and P. Fatt, eds. (Academic, New York, 1977), pp. 205–230.
  31. H. E. Ives, "Studies in the photometry of lights of different colors. III. Distortions in spectral luminosity curves produced by variations in the character of the comparison standard and of the surroundings of the photometric field," Philos. Mag. 24,744–751 (1912).
  32. H. Piéron, "Recherches sur la validité de la loi d'Abney impliquant l'addition intégrale des valences luminenses élémentaires dans les flux composites," Ann. Psychol. 40, 52–83 (1942).
  33. F. L. Tufts, "Spectrophotometry of normal and colorblind eyes," Phys. Rev. 25, 433–452 (1907).
  34. H. E. Ives, "Studies in the photometry of lights of different colours—IV. The addition of luminosities of different colour," Philos. Mag. 24, 845–853 (1913).
  35. A. Dresler,The non-additivity of heterochromatic brightness Trans. Illum. Eng. Soc. 18, 141–165 (1953).
  36. Y. Legrand, Light, Colour and Vision (Chapman and Hall, London, 1968), pp. 123–125.
  37. G. Wagner and R. M. Boynton, "Comparison of four methods of heterochromatic photometry," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 62, 1508–1515 (1972).
  38. H. G. Sperling, "An experimental investigation of the relationship between colour mixture and luminous efficiency," in Visual Problems of Colour, National Physical Laboratory Symposium No. 8 (H. M. Stationery Office, London, 1958).
  39. H. E. Ives, "Studies in the photometry of lights of different colours. I. Spectral luminosity curves obtained by the equality of the brightness photometer and the flicker photometer under similar conditions," Philos. Mag. 24, 149–188 (1912).
  40. C. R. Ingling, Jr., et al., "The achromatic channel. I. The nonlinearity of minimum-border and flicker matches," Vision Res. 18, 379–390 (1978).
  41. G. Wald, "Defective color vision and its inheritance," Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 55, 1347–1363 (1966).
  42. M. Ikeda, K. Hukami, and M. Urakubo, "Flicker photometry with chromatic adaptation and defective color vision," Am. J. Ophthalmol. 73, 270–277 (1972).
  43. M. Ikeda and M. Urakubo, "Flicker HTRF as a test of color vision," J. Opt. Soc. Am. 58, 27–31 (1968).
  44. V. C. Smith and J. Pokorny, "Spectral sensitivity of the foveal cone photopigments between 400 and 500 nm," Vision Res. 15, 161–171 (1975).
  45. C. E. Sternheim, C. F. Stromeyer III, and M. C. K. Khoo, "Visibility of chromatic flicker upon spectrally mixed adapting fields," Vision Res. 19, 175–184 (1979).
  46. P. E. King-Smith and J. R. Webb, "The use of photopic saturation in determining the fundamental spectral sensitivity curves," Vision Res. 14, 421–429 (1974).

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