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Vision Res. 2004 Feb;44(4):377-83.

Unveiling the foveal blue scotoma through an afterimage.

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Brain Research Unit, University of Freiburg, Hansastrasse 9, D-79104 Freiburg, Germany.


The absence of short-wave-sensitive (S-) cones in the human foveola normally goes unnoticed, but the resulting foveal S-cone, or blue, scotoma can be visualized as the negative afterimage of a short-wavelength adapting field on a larger white background. The afterimage has an annular shape with a lighter inner region that corresponds to Maxwell's spot, and a small bright spot in the center corresponding to the foveal blue scotoma. We have shown that the visibility of the center spot in the afterimage approximately follows the spectral sensitivity curve of the S-cones. We further demonstrate that the central bright spot subtends a retinal area that is coincident with the tritanopic region of the foveola. The macular pigment distribution measured for the same observers also peaks in the central fovea, but has a relatively high density over a broader retinal region than the bright spot in the negative afterimage, and more closely corresponds to the lighter annular region of the afterimage. The results support the hypothesis of an active post-receptoral process for filling-in of chromatic scotomas.

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