The spectral identity of foveal cones is preserved in hue perception

J Vis. 2018 Oct 1;18(11):19. doi: 10.1167/18.11.19.


Organisms are faced with the challenge of making inferences about the physical world from incomplete incoming sensory information. One strategy to combat ambiguity in this process is to combine new information with prior experiences. We investigated the strategy of combining these information sources in color vision. Single cones in human subjects were stimulated and the associated percepts were recorded. Subjects rated each flash for brightness, hue, and saturation. Brightness ratings were proportional to stimulus intensity. Saturation was independent of intensity, but varied between cones. Hue, in contrast, was assigned in a stereotyped manner that was predicted by cone type. These experiments revealed that, near the fovea, long and middle wavelength sensitive cones produce sensations that can be reliably distinguished on the basis of hue, but not saturation or brightness. Taken together, these observations implicate the high-resolution, color-opponent parvocellular pathway in this low-level visual task.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Color
  • Color Vision / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fovea Centralis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Sensory Thresholds