You are on page 1of 43

GEK1532 Color Perception Mechanisms and Binocular Vision

Thorsten Wohland Dep. Of Chemistry S8-03-06 Tel.: 6516 1248 E-mail:
Seeing the light, Fig. 10.11

Color vision: Perspective from different disciplines, Backhaus Light Vision Color, A. Valberg

Please read until next week:

Saunders and Brakel: ve/bbs.saunders.html

Japanese Bridge over Water Lily Pond 1926

Japanese Bridge over Water Lily Pond 1899

House seen from the rose garden 1924

House seen from the rose garden 1924

Retina independent color anomalies

With age the lens of humans becomes more and more yellow (same happens with cataracts). Your brain adapts to that and you still perceive white as white etc. However, when you paint, the colors you use will contain more yellow (Metamers).

The organization of the retina

Spatial summation
Illuminate spots on the retina of different size and determine the number of photons needed before the spot can be seen

T.N. Cornsweet, Fig. 2.5 Sensitivity constant Sensitivity decreases 1st spot: only few rods on average 2nd spot: smaller than summation area 3rd spot: larger than summation area

Temporal summation
How many photons have to arrive in a certain time interval so that the eye sees a flash?

Adapted form T.N. Cornsweet, Fig. 2.5

time (ms) 0 10 20 time (ms) 0 10 20

time (ms) 0 10 20

Lateral Inhibition
One ganglion cell receives signal from many receptors, excitatory or inhibitory signals.

+- - -- - + - - - -- - +- - + --

STL Fig. 7.2

One cone/rod can contribute to some ganglion cells excitatory to others inhibitory.

Lateral Inhibition
rest excitation inhibition No difference -> rest Strong excitation No difference -> rest STL Fig. 7.12

Lateral Inhibition

STL Fig. 7.8

Spatial frequency and tilt

If edge information is missing

You can have negative and positive afterimages. The effect comes from the fact that when a cone/rod is stimulated for a long time it desensitizes.

1) The cones perceiving the black square are not excited, the cones perceiving the white surrounding are excited and desensitize with time. 2) When looking at the white surface on the right, the desensitized cones are less excited than the rested cones in the middle and thus you see a white square.

Negative after images

rest excitation Inhibition or desensitization STL Fig. 7.12 Inhibition: If an excited cone, i.e. a cone that has absorbed light suppresses signaling, it is called inhibition. The result is a lower frequency of firing of the ganglion cell. Desensitization: After strong excitation a cone can become less sensitive and cannot react again immediately. In this case there could be as well less firing from this cone.

Negative after images

Cones rest excitation Inhibition or desensitization STL Fig. 7.12 S M L Long exposure to white light

No image

Long exposure of some cones, image is seen

The exposed cones are desensitized, give lower signal than surrounding rested cones.

Positive afterimages. You can sensitize your retina by closing your eyes and resting your cones (remember when you close eyes a long time and open them you seem to be blinded first). When you open your eyes shortly (seconds) and look at some bright object the cones get excited. When you close your eyes again the cones will not desensitize and will stay stimulated longer and give you a positive afterimage.

See the TRY IT on page 194 of STL.

Now lets recall what we know about the CIE system and then lets see whether there are any facts left unexplained. Can we perhaps resolve some of these issues with our new knowledge of the retina and its organization?

Trichromacy, Tristimulus theory


Take one cone; shine light of constant intensity on the cone; measure the light transmitted; calculate absorption

Color mixing
1.0 P1 x P2 P3 If P1, P2, and x have same intensity we have too much red. Since P3 excites the red cone 4 times less P2, we can subtract 4 times P3 to get our mixture: x = P1 + P 2 4 P 3

x: equal excitation of blue and green cone by 30%, no excitation of red P1: excitation of blue cone by 30%, no excitation of green and red P2: excitation of green cone by 30%, excitation of red by 80%, no excitation of blue P3: excitation only of red by 20%.

Negative values: 3 primaries are not enough to mix all colors

3 abstract colors are chosen which then can cover all visible colors with positive values. These colors do not exist, and some of their mixtures do not give real colors either. The normalization, the condition that x+y+z=1 allows us then to depict all colors in one graph, but only at constant intensity.

The CIE system

Complementary colors are connected by a straight line going through white.

The CIE system

Mixtures of colors are easy to find. Distance from 486 nm point is three times longer than from 545 nm point. Therefore you need a mixture of 486:545 nm of 1:3.

The CIE system

It can be easily found how to construct metamers.

Do all spectral hues have a complementary spectral hue?

STL, Fig. 9.9

Hue discrimination

STL, Fig. 10.4

Remember this?
Copyright 2000 Adobe Systems Incorporated. All rights reserved. Information is provided "As Is" without warranty of any kind. Users may make a single copy of portions of database for personal use provided that this notice is included on such copy.

Facts not explained by Trichromacy Color naming

STL, Fig. 10.9 Experiment done by asking a person to estimate how much blue, yellow, green, and red is contained in a hue represented by a pure wavelength.

Hue cancellation

STL, Fig. 10.10

Opponent processing
Can we connect the cones in a fashion, so that the signal at the ganglion cells will correspond to the four opponent colors red, green, blue, and yellow?

STL: Fig. 7.2

Possible combinations
S M + L L M

Perceived Brightness


Possible combinations
M S +

So we have constructed 3 new signals from the original three cones: 1. Black White 2. Green Red 3. Blue Yellow

based on 4 colors

Blue - Yellow

Four color opponent model

Seeing the light, Fig. 10.11

CIE and the opponent process

W: all cones are equally excited, therefore the lines dividing the CIE in r, g, b, y regions must cross there. W: all cones are equally excited, therefore the lines dividing the CIE in r, g, b, y regions must cross there.

STL, Fig. 10.12

Spatial Processing of Color

Double opponency
Opponency of location (inside versus outside)
One ganglion cell receives signal from many receptors, excitatory or inhibitory signals.

Opponency of color

The combination of both gives double opponency

Double Opponency
1. Individual L and M cone signals are pooled by a ganglion cell to give a Red-Green opponent signal

L -

M -

Red - Green

Green - Red

E.g. a red surface +

2. Depending on the position of the cones on your retina the Red-Green opponent signal can work as excitatory (+) some as inhibitory (-) signals.

Revision: Spatial Processing of Color

+ ++ + + + - +- - - - STL, Fig. 10.16

+ +- + + +

Revision: Spatial Processing of Color

0 0+ 0 0

00 0 STL, Fig. 10.16

Temporal Processing
Benham disk: White parts excite all three cones. However, the three cones recover from activation differently. When black falls onto the excited cones, some are still stimulated (e.g. the blue one) while others (red and green) have already recovered. Thus one sees blue.

STL, Fig. 10.19

Temporal Processing

STL, Fig. 10.21

Benham disk, positive afterimages

Return to resting state afetr blue cone has deexcited as well

Cones No excitation, no color perception Flash of white light All cone excited, white is seen Red cone de-excites fast, a blue/green (cyan) color is seen Green cone de-excites next. Blue is seen

Color Perception Mechanisms Tristimulus Theory Color naming, hue cancellation Opponent processing Spatial Processing of Color Temporal Processing of Color