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Sci Rep. 2019 May 20;9(1):7568. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-44035-3.

A quantitative analysis of the contribution of melanopsin to brightness perception.

Author information

1
Graduate School of Environment and Information Sciences, Yokohama National University, Yokohama, Japan. yamakawa-masahiko-wc@ynu.jp.
2
Department of Information Science and Biomedical Engineering, Kagoshima University, Kagoshima, Japan.
3
Faculty of Environment and Information Sciences, Yokohama National University, Yokohama, Japan.

Abstract

In the retina, intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) which express photopigment melanopsin have been identified as photoreceptors which differ from cones and rods. It has been established that such melanopsin-expressing RGCs are involved in the circadian photo-entrainment and pupillary light reflexes. An additional projection from ipRGCs to the lateral geniculate nucleus has been identified, which indicates the association of ipRGCs with visual perception induced by the image-forming pathway. Reportedly, ipRGCs modulate brightness perception but quantitative analysis of brightness perception involving melanopsin and cones-based signals has not been elucidated. We conducted brightness perception experiments that involved melanopsin using a novel projector with six primary colors and formulated the results for melanopsin and cone stimuli. The white visual stimuli (5 degrees in size) that we used had a single xy-chromaticity values but melanopsin stimuli were modulated by designing different spectral distributions. Perceived brightness was measured using a magnitude estimation method at several luminance levels in the near periphery (7 degrees). Additionally, pupil diameter was measured for estimating the intensity of visual stimuli on the retina. The results showed that the perceived brightness of a white visual stimulus with different spectral distributions can be described by a summation of the nearly linear melanopsin response and the non-linear cone response with weighted coefficients, and the contribution ratio of melanopsin in brightness perception increased to 50% and more with increasing visual stimulus. These suggest that melanopsin signals play a crucial role in the estimation of the absolute intensity of the light environment by obtaining absolute brightness information even when cones are adapted by light.

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