Colour appearance and compensation in the near periphery

Proc Biol Sci. 2010 Jun 22;277(1689):1817-25. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2009.1832. Epub 2010 Feb 10.


The spectral sensitivity of the visual system varies markedly between the fovea and surrounding periphery owing in part to the rapid fall in macular pigment density with eccentricity. We examined how colour appearance changes between the fovea and near periphery (8 degrees) by measuring achromatic loci and the loci of unique and binary hues. Chosen colours remained much more similar at the two locations than predicted by the change in spectral sensitivity. Compensation for white may reflect long-term gain changes within the cones that equate sensitivity for the local average stimulus in the fovea and periphery. However, adjusting only to the average stimulus cannot correct for all of the effects of a spectral sensitivity change, and predicts differences in colour percepts between the fovea and periphery that were not observed. The similarities in hue percepts at 0 and 8 degrees thus suggest that additional processes help compensate colour appearance to maintain constancy in the near periphery. We model the results of previous studies to show that similar adjustments are implied by age-related changes in lens pigment, and to show that these adjustments are consistent with previous measurements of peripheral colour appearance based on hue cancellation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological
  • Adaptation, Ocular
  • Aging / physiology
  • Color
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Retinal Pigments


  • Retinal Pigments