An achromatic stimulus is defined as a patch of light that is devoid of any hue. This is usually achieved by asking observers to adjust the stimulus such that it looks neither red nor green and at the same time neither yellow nor blue. Despite the theoretical and practical importance of the achromatic locus, little is known about the variability in these settings. The main purpose of the current study was to evaluate whether achromatic settings were dependent on the task of the observers, namely the navigation direction in color space. Observers could either adjust the test patch along the two chromatic axes in the CIE u*v* diagram or, alternatively, navigate along the unique-hue lines. Our main result is that the navigation method affects the reliability of these achromatic settings. Observers are able to make more reliable achromatic settings when adjusting the test patch along the directions defined by the four unique hues as opposed to navigating along the main axes in the commonly used CIE u*v* chromaticity plane. This result holds across different ambient viewing conditions (Dark, Daylight, Cool White Fluorescent) and different test luminance levels (5, 20, and 50 cd/m(2)). The reduced variability in the achromatic settings is consistent with the idea that internal color representations are more aligned with the unique-hue lines than the u* and v* axes.
Keywords: achromatic; color constancy; color space; luminance; unique hues.