The influence of short-term adaptation of human rods and cones on cone-mediated grating visibility

J Physiol. 1991 Jan;432:521-41. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1991.sp018398.

Abstract

1. The influences of short-term visual adaptation of either rods or cones upon cone-mediated grating visibility were compared with their influences upon detection threshold in both the fovea and parafoveal retina. Short-term visual adaptation was induced by 20 deg diameter adapting fields (AFs) generally of 500 ms duration. The AF was either -0.5 log td in illuminance and too dim to influence cones, or 2.5 log td and bright enough to stimulate cones as well as rods. 2. In control experiments, we replicated previous results of Crawford (1947), Baker (1963), and other investigators and determined the influence of these AFs upon the detection threshold of a homogeneous test flash (TF) of 54 min of arc diameter and 10 ms duration. If the AF was 2.5 log td in illuminance and stimuli were presented foveally, TF threshold began to rise several hundred milliseconds before AF onset, was maximal when AF and TF were simultaneous in onset but was less elevated during the remaining presentation of the AF. TF threshold decreased to control value within several seconds after AF offset. These data represent a cone adaptation function since action spectra for both the test and adapting flashes adhere to the spectral sensitivity of the CIE standard luminous efficiency function V lambda. 3. If the AF was -0.5 log td in illuminance and if stimuli were presented parafoveally, the time course of TF detection threshold changes were similar to those described in paragraph 2 above. But these data represent a rod adaptation function since action spectra for both the test and adapting flashes adhered to the spectral sensitivity of the CIE standard luminous efficiency function V' lambda. In the fovea, the -0.5 log td AF had no influence upon the detection threshold of the TF suggesting complete rod-cone independence. 4. The influence of short-term adaptation upon spatial visibility was studied using a vertically oriented, 18 cycle/deg grating which was also 54 min of arc in diameter and 10 ms in duration. We determined the illuminance just necessary to see the bars of the grating (i.e. threshold grating illuminance or TGI) at various time intervals in respect to the onset of an AF. 5. Rod-stimulating (-0.5 log td) AFs, whether 0.5 or 2 s in duration, only influenced TGI after AF onset. TGI gradually decreased (i.e. an increase in sensitivity) during the first 250 ms of AF presentation and then remained stable until AF offset.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Ocular / physiology*
  • Fovea Centralis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Sensory Thresholds / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Time Factors