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Andrew Stockman, Daniel J. Plummer; Long-wavelength adaptation reveals slow, spectrally opponent inputs to the human luminance pathway. Journal of Vision 2005;5(9):5. doi: 10.1167/5.9.5.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
In addition to its expected fast, additive L- and M-cone inputs (L + M), the luminance pathway has slow, spectrally opponent inputs. We have previously shown that on long-wavelength fields, the dominant slow signals change from L–M at moderate intensity levels to M–L signals at high. Here, we focus on the transition between them, which we find is marked by substantial changes in temporal phase delay, and by large and unexpected shifts in flicker spectral sensitivity. At moderate temporal frequencies, counter to the selective adaptation caused by the field, spectral sensitivity changes from being M-cone-like to more L-cone-like. These changes can be accounted for by a change in the relative strengths of the slow spectrally opponent cone signals from L–M exceeding M–L below the transition to M–L exceeding L–M above it, and by the resulting changes in constructive and destructive interference between the dominant signal components. We speculate that the transition is caused by the deep-red field becoming equivalent, postreceptorally, to a green field at high bleaching levels. These results further challenge the dogma that there are separable psychophysical channels for the transmission and processing of color and luminance information. Although its output generates an achromatic percept, the luminance channel has spectrally opponent inputs.
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