OSA's Digital Library

Journal of the Optical Society of America A

Journal of the Optical Society of America A


  • Editor: Stephen A. Burns
  • Vol. 22, Iss. 10 — Oct. 1, 2005
  • pp: 2107–2119

Response saturation of monochromatic increments on intense achromatic backgrounds: implications for color-opponent organization in human vision

Bruce Drum and Charles E. Sternheim  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA A, Vol. 22, Issue 10, pp. 2107-2119 (2005)

View Full Text Article

Enhanced HTML    Acrobat PDF (329 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



We present evidence that steady achromatic adapting fields can produce response saturation in color-opponent pathways. We measured tvi (log increment threshold illuminance versus log background illuminance) functions at four test wavelengths (430, 490, 575, and 660 nm ) and nine background illuminances from 4.0   to   5.6 log Td . Foveal, 2° diameter, 1 s duration test stimuli were presented on a concentric, perceptually white ( 5128 ° K color temperature), 7° diameter, steady background. Thresholds were obtained by the method of adjustment, after which the test stimulus illuminances were increased 0.6 log unit and the subject estimated percentages of red, yellow, green, blue, and white. Average tvi slopes for two subjects were 2.06 for 430 nm , 1.6 for 490 nm , 1.11 for 575 nm and 1.34 for 660 nm , consistent with the estimated ratios of chromatic to achromatic sensitivity at the same wavelengths. Also, the percentage of white seen in the suprathreshold increments increased with increasing background illuminance despite increases in excitation purity. These findings imply that steady, intense, achromatic backgrounds can produce response saturation in color-opponent mechanisms at wavelengths across the visible spectrum. The saturation was more extreme at short wavelengths than at middle or long wavelengths, producing a tritanopic condition at the highest background illuminances. The tritanopia reduced color space to a predominately red–blue dichromacy, in agreement with previous findings. The results support a multistage opponent-color model in which precortical koniocellular and parvocellular opponent pathways interact to produce the observed red–green and yellow–blue color-opponent channels at a cortical level.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(330.1710) Vision, color, and visual optics : Color, measurement
(330.1720) Vision, color, and visual optics : Color vision
(330.4060) Vision, color, and visual optics : Vision modeling
(330.4270) Vision, color, and visual optics : Vision system neurophysiology
(330.5510) Vision, color, and visual optics : Psychophysics
(330.7310) Vision, color, and visual optics : Vision
(330.7320) Vision, color, and visual optics : Vision adaptation

ToC Category:
Color Vision

Original Manuscript: February 4, 2005
Revised Manuscript: May 25, 2005
Manuscript Accepted: May 26, 2005
Published: October 1, 2005

Bruce Drum and Charles E. Sternheim, "Response saturation of monochromatic increments on intense achromatic backgrounds: implications for color-opponent organization in human vision," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 22, 2107-2119 (2005)

Sort:  Author  |  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset  


  1. The term “saturation” in the color vision literature may refer either to response saturation, the loss of responsiveness at high stimulus levels, or to chromatic saturation, the relative amount of hue perceived in a colored stimulus. In order to minimize confusion, “saturation” consistently means response saturation in this paper. We refer to chromatic saturation by alternate descriptive terms, e.g., chromatic/achromatic ratio or chromatic “response,” “component,” “strength,” or “content.”
  2. M. Aguilar, W. S. Stiles, “Saturation of the rod mechanism of the retina at high levels of stimulation,” Opt. Acta 1, 59–65 (1954). [CrossRef]
  3. C. B. Blakemore, W. A. H. Rushton, “Dark adaptation and increment threshold in a rod monochromat,” J. Physiol. (London) 181, 612–628 (1965a).
  4. C. B. Blakemore, W. A. H. Rushton, “The rod increment threshold during dark adaptation in normal and rod monochromat,” J. Physiol. (London) 181, 629–640 (1965b).
  5. W. S. Stiles, “Adaptation, chromatic adaptation, colour transformation,” An. R. Soc. Esp. Fis. Quim. 57, 149–175 (1961).
  6. J. D. Mollon, P. G. Polden, “Saturation of a retinal cone mechanism,” Nature (London) 265, 243–246 (1977). [CrossRef]
  7. E. N. Pugh, J. D. Mollon, “A theory of the Π1 and Π3 color mechanisms of Stiles,” Vision Res. 19, 293–312 (1979). [CrossRef]
  8. C. F. Stromeyer, R. E. Kronauer, J. C. Madsen, “Response saturation of short-wavelength cone pathways controlled by color-opponent mechanisms,” Vision Res. 19, 1025–1040 (1979). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  9. B. Drum, “Color scaling of chromatic increments on achromatic backgrounds: implications for hue signals from individual classes of cones,” Color Res. Appl. 14, 293–308 (1989). [CrossRef]
  10. M. Kalloniatis, R. S. Harwerth, “Spectral sensitivity and adaptation characteristics of cone mechanisms under white-light adaptation,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 7, 1912–1928 (1990). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  11. B. Drum, “Saturation and purity of near-threshold increments on achromatic backgrounds,” Optom. Vision Sci. 67, 595–599 (1989). [CrossRef]
  12. W. E. K. Middleton, E. G. Mayo, “The appearance of colors in twilight,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 42, 116–121 (1952). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  13. C. R. Ingling, H. M. O. Schiebner, R. M. Boynton, “Color naming of small foveal fields,” Vision Res. 10, 501–511 (1970). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  14. J. Gordon, I. Abramov, “Color vision in the peripheral retina. I. Hue and saturation,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 67, 202–207 (1977). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  15. M. Alpern, K. Kitahara, D. H. Krantz, “Perception of colour in unilateral tritanopia,” J. Physiol. (London) 335, 683–697 (1983).
  16. B. Drum, “Hue signals from short-and middle-wavelength-sensitive cones,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 6, 153–157 (1989). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  17. R. L. De Valois, K. K. De Valois, L. E. Mahon, “Contribution of S opponent cells to color appearance,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 97, 512–517 (2000). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  18. J. A. Schirillo, A. Reeves, “Color-naming of M-cone incremental flashes,” Color Res. Appl. 26, 132–140 (2001). [CrossRef]
  19. A. L. Lewis, M. Katz, C. Oehrlein, “A modified achromatizing lens,” Am. J. Optom. Physiol. Opt. 59, 909–911 (1982). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  20. We chose large, long-duration test stimuli in order to maximize chromatic sensitivity relative to both parvo- cellular and magnocellular achromatic sensitivity.[21, 22, 23]
  21. C. R. Ingling, B. Drum, “Retinal receptive fields: correlations between psychophysics and electrophysiology,” Vision Res. 13, 1151–1163 (1973). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  22. C. R. Ingling, E. Martinez–Uriegas, “The spatiotemporal properties of the r-g X-channel,” Vision Res. 25, 33–38 (1985). [CrossRef]
  23. B. Drum, “Chromatic saturation derived from increment thresholds for white and colored targets,” Mod. Probl. Ophthalmol. 17, 79–85 (1976).
  24. C. E. Sternheim, B. Drum, “Achromatic and chromatic sensation as a function of color temperature and retinal illuminance,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 10, 838–843 (1993). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  25. R. M. Boynton, Human Color Vision (Optical Society of America, 1992), p. 173.
  26. Wyszecki and Stiles [G. Wyszecki, W. S. Stiles, “High-level trichromatic color matching and the pigment-bleaching hypothesis,” Vision Res. 20, 23–37 (1980)] found that S-cone spectral sensitivity as assessed by color matching was virtually unchanged from 1000 to 100,000 Td and concluded that S cones either did not bleach over this illuminance range or that S-cone photopigment was already dilute at the lower illuminance, making bleaching undetectable by their method. Here we make the conservative assumption that the S-cone half-bleach constant is the same as that of L and M cones. Assuming that S cones are immune from bleaching would predict even steeper 430 nm (and perhaps 490 nm) slopes than those shown in Figs. 2, 3. [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  27. P. E. King-Smith, 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). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  28. G. H. Jacobs, R. H. Yolton, “Center-surround balance in receptive fields of cells in the lateral geniculate nucleus,” Vision Res. 10, 1127–1144 (1970). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  29. F. M. de Monasterio, P. Gouras, D. J. Tolhurst, “Concealed colour opponency in ganglion cells of macaque retina,” J. Physiol. (London) 251, 217–229 (1975).
  30. F. M. de Monasterio, “Electrophysiology of color vision. I. Cellular level,” in Colour Vision Deficiencies VII, G. Verriest, ed., Doc. Ophthalmol. Proc. Ser.39, 9–28 (1984).
  31. V. Billock, “The relationship between simple and double opponent cells,” Vision Res. 31, 33–42 (1991). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  32. V. Billock, “Cortical simple cells can extract achromatic information from the multiplexed chromatic and achromatic signals in the parvocellular pathway,” Vision Res. 35, 2359–2369 (1995). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  33. P. Gouras, H. Eggers, “Ganglion cells mediating the signals of blue sensitive cones in primate retina detect white-yellow borders independently of brightness,” Vision Res. 22, 675–679 (1982). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  34. B. B. Lee, V. Virsu, A. Elepfandt, “Cell responses in dorsal layers of macaque lateral geniculate nucleus as a function of intensity and wavelength,” J. Neurophysiol. 50, 849–863 (1983). [PubMed]
  35. B. B. Lee, A. Valberg, D. A. Tigwell, J. Tryti, “An account of responses of spectrally opponent neurons in macaque lateral geniculate nucleus to successive contrast,” Proc. R. Soc. London, Ser. B 230, 293–314 (1987). [CrossRef]
  36. B. Drum, “Forced-choice colour discrimination in the dark-adapted parafovea,” in Colour Vision Deficiencies, V. G. Verriest, ed. (Hilger, 1980), pp. 365–370.
  37. B. Drum, C. E. Sternheim, “Loss of chromatic response to monochromatic increments on intense achromatic pedestal backgrounds,” in Colour Vision Deficiencies XI, B. Drum, ed. (Kluwer Academic, 1993). [CrossRef]
  38. L. M. Hurvich, D. Jameson, “Some quantitative aspects of an opponent-colors theory. II. Brightness, saturation, and hue in normal and dichromatic vision,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 45, 602–616 (1955). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  39. L. Guth, R. W. Massof, T. Benzschawel, “Vector model for normal and dichromatic color vision,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 70, 197–212 (1980). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  40. R. M. Boynton, Human Color Vision (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1979).
  41. C. R. Ingling, B. Tsou, “Orthogonal combination of the three visual channels,” Vision Res. 17, 1075–1082 (1977). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  42. E. Hering, Outlines of a Theory of the Light Sense (Julius Springer, 1920), translated by L. M. Hurvich and D. Jameson (Harvard U. Press, 1964).
  43. D. Jameson, L. M. Hurvich, “Some quantitative aspects of an opponent-colors theory. I. Chromatic responses and spectral saturation,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 45, 546–552 (1955). [CrossRef]
  44. L. M. Hurvich, D. Jameson, “An opponent process theory of color vision,” Psychol. Rev. 64, 384–404 (1957). [CrossRef]
  45. L. Guth, N. J. Donley, R. T. Marrocco, “On luminance additivity and related topics,” Vision Res. 9, 537–575 (1969). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  46. L. Guth, H. R. Lodge, “Heterochromatic additivity, foveal spectral sensitivity, and a new color model,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 63, 450–462 (1973). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  47. R. L. De Valois, I. Abramov, G. H. Jacobs, “Analysis of response patterns of LGN cells,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 56, 966–977 (1966). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  48. T. N. Wiesel, D. H. Hubel, “Spatial and chromatic interactions in the lateral geniculate body of the rhesus monkey,” J. Neurophysiol. 29, 1115–1156 (1966). [PubMed]
  49. P. Gouras, “Identification of cone mechanisms in monkey ganglion cells,” J. Physiol. (London) 199, 533–547 (1968).
  50. J. Krauskopf, D. R. Williams, D. W. Heeley, “Cardinal directions of color space,” Vision Res. 22, 1123–1131 (1982). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  51. C. R. Ingling, “The spectral sensitivity of the opponent-color channels,” Vision Res. 17, 1083–1089 (1977). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  52. C. R. Ingling, E. Martinez-Uriegas, “The relationship between spectral sensitivity and spatial sensitivity for the primate r-g X-channel,” Vision Res. 23, 1495–1500 (1983). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  53. J. Neitz, M. Neitz, “A neural mechanism that is plastic in adults and its implications for coding of color,” J. Vision 4, 33a (2004), http://journalofvision.org/4/11/33/, doi: 10.1167/4.11.33. (Abstract of talk, 2004 Fall Vision Meeting, Rochester, New York). [CrossRef]
  54. R. L. De Valois, K. K. De Valois, “A multi-stage color model,” Vision Res. 33, 1053–1065 (1993). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  55. R. L. De Valois, N. P. Cottaris, S. D. Elfar, L. E. Mahon, J. A. Wilson, “Some transformations of color information from lateral geniculate nucleus to striate cortex,” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 97, 4997–5002 (2000). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  56. S. L. Guth, “Model for color vision and light adaptation,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 8, 976–993 (1991). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  57. S. L. Guth, “The constancy myth, the vocabulary of color perception and the ATD04 model,” Proc. SPIE 5292, 1–14 (2004). [CrossRef]
  58. B. Drum, C. E. Sternheim, “Saturation of chromatic increments on intense achromatic backgrounds,” in Annual Meeting, Vol. 15 of 1990 OSA Technical Digest Series (Optical Society of America, 1990), p. 184.

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