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Vis Neurosci. 2004 May-Jun;21(3):477-82.

Modelling the Rayleigh match.

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Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EB, UK.


We use the photopigment template of Baylor et al. (1987) to define the set of Rayleigh matches that would be satisfied by a photopigment having a given wavelength of peak sensitivity (lambda(max)) and a given optical density (OD). For an observer with two photopigments in the region of the Rayleigh primaries, the observer's unique match is defined by the intersection of the sets of matches that satisfy the individual pigments. The use of a template allows us to illustrate the general behavior of Rayleigh matches as the absorption spectra of the underlying spectra are altered. In a plot of the Y setting against the red-green ratio (R), both an increase in lambda(max) and an increase in optical density lead to an anticlockwise rotation of the locus of the matches satisfied by a given pigment. Since both these factors affect the match, it is not possible to reverse the analysis and define uniquely the photopigments corresponding to a specific Rayleigh match. However, a way to constrain the set of candidate photopigments would be to determine the trajectory of the change of match as the effective optical density is altered (by, say, bleaching or field size).

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