The spectral sensitivity of the human short-wavelength sensitive cones derived from thresholds and color matches

Vision Res. 1999 Aug;39(17):2901-27. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(98)00225-9.


We used two methods to estimate short-wave (S) cone spectral sensitivity. Firstly, we measured S-cone thresholds centrally and peripherally in five trichromats, and in three blue-cone monochromats, who lack functioning middle-wave (M) and long-wave (L) cones. Secondly, we analyzed standard color-matching data. Both methods yielded equivalent results, on the basis of which we propose new S-cone spectral sensitivity functions. At short and middle-wavelengths, our measurements are consistent with the color matching data of Stiles and Burch (1955, Optica Acta, 2, 168-181; 1959, Optica Acta, 6, 1-26), and other psychophysically measured functions, such as pi 3 (Stiles, 1953, Coloquio sobre problemas opticos de la vision, 1, 65-103). At longer wavelengths, S-cone sensitivity has previously been over-estimated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Macula Lutea
  • Male
  • Psychophysics
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Retinal Pigments / analysis
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Spectrophotometry


  • Retinal Pigments