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Karen R. Dobkins, Karen L. Gunther; Chromatic Contrast Sensitivity is Constrained by the Relative Number of L- vs. M- cones in the Eye. Journal of Vision 2002;2(10):53. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/2.10.53.
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Many previous studies have shown that the relative number of long-wavelength-selective (L) versus medium-wavelength-selective (M) cones in the eye influences spectral sensitivity revealed perceptually. Here, we hypothesize that the L:M cone ratio should also influence red/green chromatic contrast sensitivity. To test this, in each subject we derived an estimate of L:M ratio based on her red/green equiluminance settings (obtained with heterochromatic flicker photometry), and measured both red/green chromatic and luminance contrast sensitivity at different spatial and temporal frequencies. Factor analysis was applied to the data in order to reveal covariance between conditions. In accordance with previous results obtained using paradigms such as adaptation, masking and summation-near-threshold, chromatic and luminance contrast sensitivity were found to be independent of one another. In addition, no relationship was observed between L:M ratio and luminance contrast sensitivity. Most importantly, a significant relationship was observed between L:M ratio and chromatic contrast sensitivity, wherein subjects possessing the most symmetrical L:M cone ratios (i.e., near 1:1) appear to possess the relatively greatest chromatic contrast sensitivity. This relationship can be accounted for by a simple model based on the notion of random L- and M-cone inputs to the center and surround receptive fields of chromatic (L-M) mechanisms.
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