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Vision Res. 2002 May;42(11):1367-78.

Individual differences in chromatic (red/green) contrast sensitivity are constrained by the relative number of L- versus M-cones in the eye.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego 0109, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


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. As expected, chromatic and luminance contrast sensitivity were found to be independent of one another, and no relationship was observed between L:M ratio and luminance contrast sensitivity. However, 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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