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Vision Res. 2000;40(23):3257-71.

Spectral tuning of dichromats to natural scenes.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, 21250, Baltimore, MD, USA.


Multispectral images of natural scenes were collected from both forests and coral reefs. We varied the wavelength position of receptors in hypothetical dichromatic visual systems and, for each receptor pair estimated the percentage of discriminable points in natural scenes. The optimal spectral tuning predicted by this model results in photoreceptor pairs very like those of forest dwelling, dichromatic mammals and of coral reef fishes. Variations of the natural illuminants in forests have little or no effect on optimal spectral tuning, but variations of depth in coral reefs have moderate effects on the spectral placement of S and L cones. The ratio of S and L cones typically found in dichromatic mammals reduces the discriminability of forest scenes; in contrast, the typical ratio of S and L cones in coral reef fishes achieves nearly the optimal discrimination in coral reef scenes.

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