Monochromatism determined at a longwavelength/middle-wavelength cone-antagonistic locus

David J. Calkins, Jay E. Thornton, Edward N Pugh Jr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


The foveal increment threshold spectral sensitivity function for a 500 msec raised cosine stimulus without spatial edges exhibits a sharp drop or "notch" in sensitivity that coincides with the wavelength of a long-wavelength adapting field. An appropriate name for this phenomenon is the "Sloan notch", after Louise Sloan, who first observed a notch in a foveal threshold spectrum. We have examined suprathreshold discriminability on both sides of the Sloan notch produced by a 6700 td, 578 nm adapting field. In a temporal two-alternative forced-choice paradigm, a suprathreshold 650 nm low-frequency "standard" stimulus was paired with low-frequency "test" stimuli, of wavelength between 600 and 670 nm and varied intensity; the observer's task was to identify the interval containing the standard. Discriminability of the test and standard typically dropped to chance for some particular test intensity, producing "indiscriminability action spectra", up to 0.7 log units above threshold. Truncated spectra (between about 530 and 560 nm) were also obtained from observers on the middle wavelength side of the Sloan notch, for a 550 nm standard. The indiscriminability action spectra of each observer were identical, up to scaling, with the observer's threshold action spectrum. Analysis of the action spectra shows that the indiscriminate stimuli are rendered equivalent at the input to a neural pathway where L- and M-cone signals converge with opposite sign. We also investigated discriminability in the spectral region containing and immediately surrounding the Sloan notch. Suprathreshold stimuli in the spectral region near the notch produce percepts that are always discriminable from 650 and 550 nm standards (and from one another), and thus we conclude that in this spectral region, perception is mediated in part by a pathway distinct from that which signals the standards. The action spectrum of this latter pathway was estimated with a variant of the discrimination procedure, and found similar to Vλ, over the spectral region 575-610 nm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2349-2367
Number of pages19
JournalVision Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Cone-antagonism Monochromatism Color opponency Color channel isolation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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