Hue scaling of isoluminant and cone-specific lights

Vision Res. 1997 Apr;37(7):885-97. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6989(96)00234-9.


Using a hue scaling technique, we have examined the appearance of colored spots produced by shifts from white to isoluminant stimuli along various color vectors in order to examine color appearance without the complications of the combined luminance and chromatic stimulation involved in most previous hue scaling studies, which have used flashes of monochromatic light. We also used spots lying along cone-isolating vectors in order to determine what hues would be reported with a change in activation of only single cone types or of only single geniculate opponent-cell types, an issue of direct relevance to any model of color vision. We find that: 1. Unique hues do not correspond either to the change in activation of single cone types or of single geniculate opponent-cell types. This is well known to be the case for yellow and blue, but we find it to be true for red and green as well. 2. These conclusions are not limited to the particular white (Illuminant C) used as an adapting background in most of the experiments. Shifts along the same cone-contrast vectors relative to different backgrounds lead to much the same hue percepts, independent of the starting white used. 3. The shifts of the perceptual colors from the geniculate axes are in the directions, and close to the absolute amounts, predicted by our [De Valois & De Valois (1993). Vision Research, 33, 1053-1065] multi-stage color model in which we postulate that the S-opponent cells are added to or subtracted from the M- and L-opponent cells to form the four perceptual color systems. 4. There are distinct asymmetries with respect to the extent to which various hues within each perceptual opponent system deviate from the geniculate opponent-cell axes. Blue is shifted more from the S-LM axis than is yellow; green is shifted more from the L-M axis than is red. There are also asymmetries in the angular extent of opponent color regions. Blue is seen over a larger range of color vectors than is yellow, and red over a slightly larger range than green. 5. Such asymmetries are not accounted for by any model that treats red-green and yellow-blue each as unitary, mirror-image opponent-color systems. Although red and green are perceptually opponent, the red and green perceptual systems do not appear to be constructed in a mirror-image fashion with respect to input from different cone types or from different geniculate opponent-cell types. The same is true for yellow and blue.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Contrast Sensitivity / physiology
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*
  • Spectrophotometry