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Sarah L. Elliott, Dingcai Cao; Scotopic hue percepts in natural scenes. Journal of Vision 2013;13(13):15. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/13.13.15.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Traditional trichromatic theories of color vision conclude that color perception is not possible under scotopic illumination in which only one type of photoreceptor, rods, is active. The current study demonstrates the existence of scotopic color perception and indicates that perceived hue is influenced by spatial context and top-down processes of color perception. Experiment 1 required observers to report the perceived hue in various natural scene images under purely rod-mediated vision. The results showed that when the test patch had low variation in the luminance distribution and was a decrement in luminance compared to the surrounding area, reddish or orangish percepts were more likely to be reported compared to all other percepts. In contrast, when the test patch had a high variation and was an increment in luminance, the probability of perceiving blue, green, or yellow hues increased. In addition, when observers had a strong, but singular, daylight hue association for the test patch, color percepts were reported more often and hues appeared more saturated compared to patches with no daylight hue association. This suggests that experience in daylight conditions modulates the bottom-up processing for rod-mediated color perception. In Experiment 2, observers reported changes in hue percepts for a test ring surrounded by inducing rings that varied in spatial context. In sum, the results challenge the classic view that rod vision is achromatic and suggest that scotopic hue perception is mediated by cortical mechanisms.
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