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Brian V. Funt, Emitis Roshan; Metamer mismatching underlies color difference sensitivity. Journal of Vision 2021;21(12):11. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.12.11.
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Color difference sensitivity as represented by the size of discrimination ellipsoids is known to depend on where the colors reside within color space. In the past, various color spaces and color difference formulas have been developed as parametric fits to the experimental data with the goal of establishing a color coordinate system in which equally discriminable colors are equal distances apart. These empirical models, however, provide no explanation as to why color discrimination varies in the way it does. This article considers the hypothesis that the variation in color discrimination tolerances reflects the uncertainty created by the degree of metamer mismatching for a given color. Specifically, the greater the degree of metamer mismatching for a color, the wider the range of spectral reflectances that could have led to it and, hence, the more finely a color needs to be discriminated in order to reliably identify materials and objects. To test this hypothesis, the available color discrimination data sets for surface colors are gathered and analyzed. A strong correlation between color discrimination and the degree of metamer mismatching is found. This correlation provides evidence that metamer mismatching provides an explanation as to why color discrimination varies throughout color space as it does.
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