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COGNITIVE SCIENCE 17 The Visual System: Color Vision Part 2 Jaime A. Pineda, Ph.D. Visible Spectrum. Color we perceive an object to be is determined by which wavelengths of light are reflected or absorbed by object

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The Visual


Color Vision

Part 2

Jaime A. Pineda, Ph.D.

Visible spectrum
Visible Spectrum

  • Color we perceive an object to be is determined by which wavelengths of light are reflected or absorbed by object

  • Only reflected wavelengths reach our eye and are seen as color

  • Referred to as spectral reflectance

Theories of color vision
Theories of Color Vision

  • Young-Helmholtz Trichromatic theory (1802)

    Based on the existence of three types of receptors that are maximally sensitive to different, but overlapping, ranges of wavelengths

Light mixing vs pigment mixing
Light mixing vs pigment mixing

  • Yellow + blue paint produces green paint (mixing pigments)

  • Yellow + blue light produces white light (mixing light)

Cones of visual system1
Cones of Visual System

  • Cones are photopic (high light)

  • 3 different cone types allow for color vision

  • Each sensitive to different wavelengths of light

  • L (long wavelength cones) - red

  • M (medium wavelength) cones - green

  • S (short wavelength) cones - blue

Three cones
Three cones

  • S correspond to “blue”

  • M corresponds to “green”

  • L corresponds to “red”

  • Throughout whole retina, ratio of L & M cones to S cones is 100:1

  • Eye less sensitive to blue end of spectrum

Theories of color vision1
Theories of Color Vision

  • Opponent-process theory

    • Cells in the visual system respond to red-green and blue-yellow colors

    • A given cell might be excited by red and inhibited by green, while another cell might be excited by yellow and inhibited by blue

Opponent processing of color
Opponent processing of color

  • Proposed by 19th century physiologist Ewald Hering (1905)

  • Certain colors not perceived together (don’t mix)

    • Reddish green or bluish yellow??

  • Antagonism between colors occurs in retina

  • 4 unique hues fundamental (primary colors):

    • red/green and yellow/blue are opposed

Opponent processing of color1
Opponent processing of color

  • Four unique hues of red, green, yellow and blue arise from the 3 types of cones

  • Input of L and M cones combined contribute to lightness or darkness

  • Mixtures account for all shades and tints we perceive

Genetic defects in color vision
Genetic Defects in color vision

  • Result from anomalies in one or more of the three types of cones.

  • Because some defects are mainly in the X chromosome and males only have one they are more susceptible to defects.

  • Protanopia  confuse red/green (see the world tinged with yellow/blue; red cones filled with ‘green’ opsin.

  • Deuteranopia  confuse red/green; green cones filled with ‘red’ opsin

Protanopia deuteranopia test
Protanopia/Deuteranopia test

Cannot read right digit  deuteranopia

Cannot read left digit  protanopia

Ganglion cells of retina
Ganglion cells of retina

  • On-center cells:

    excited (depolarized) when light is directed to cones in center of receptive field; inhibited when light hits the surround

  • Off-center cells:

    inhibited when light is directed to the center of receptive field; excited when light is directed to center

Two major classes of ganglion cells within retina:

M & P cells – named for separate projections to magnocellular ( large cell) and parvocellular (small cell) layers of lateral geniculate nucleus

Account for 90% of all ganglion cells

More P than M cells

Ganglion cells of retina

M cells

large; simple antagonistic receptive fields, some off-center, some on-center but in both types the center and surround have similar, broad spectral sensitivities.

Concerned with gross features of a stimulus and its movement

P cells

color information carried almost exclusively by these cells. These are smaller, have smaller receptive fields; respond selectively to specific wavelengths

Primarily involved in analysis of fine detail of visual image

Dorsal where and ventral what visual streams in monkey
Dorsal (“Where”) and Ventral (“What”) Visual Streams in Monkey

Parietal (Dorsal) and Temporal (Ventral) Processing Streams

Areas MT and V4 in the Macaque Brain

Dorsal where and ventral what visual streams in human pet
Dorsal (“Where”) and Ventral (“What”) Visual Streams in Human (PET)

Dorsal (where) pathway shown in green and blueand Ventral (what) pathway shown in yellow and redserve different functions. (Courtesy of Leslie Ungerleider).

Retinal and thalamic precursors of the dorsal and ventral visual pathways
Retinal and Thalamic Precursors of the Dorsal and Ventral Visual Pathways

Magnocellular (dorsal) and parvocellular (ventral) pathways from the retina to the higher levels of the visual cortex are separate at the lower levels of the visual system. At higher levels they show increasing overlap.

Primary visual cortex
Primary visual cortex Visual Pathways

  • Visual area 1 (V1); Brodman’s area 17

  • Located at posterior pole of cerebral hemisphere around calcarine sulcus

  • Striated; consists of 6 layers of cells

  • Organizes retinal inputs into building blocks of visual images (columns)

  • About ½ of V1 is devoted to fovea and retina region just around the fovea

  • Allows for great acuity of spatial discrimination in central part of visual field

Some human cortical visual regions v1 v2 v3 v4 v5 mt
Some Human Cortical Visual Regions: Visual PathwaysV1, V2, V3, V4, V5 (MT)

Beyond v1 extrastriate cortex
Beyond V1 Cortex Extrastriate Cortex

Unfolded map of monkey cortex highlighting extrastriate visual cortex
Unfolded Map of Monkey Cortex Highlighting CortexExtrastriate Visual Cortex

Multiple Cortical Areas Devoted to Visual Functions

David Van Essen developed the technique of unfolding the cortex to better appreciate the many areas that contribute to vision.

Colored areas are devoted to visual function and brownareas are devoted to other functions.

Extensive interconnections between areas in primate brain
Extensive Interconnections Between Areas in Primate Brain Cortex

Separation and Integration of Function

Areas of the monkey visual system (shown previously on unfolded cortex) are heavily interconnected.

Retinohypothalamic pathway visual input maintains circadian rhythms
Retinohypothalamic Pathway: Visual Input Maintains Circadian Rhythms

Pathway from retina to the suprachiasmic nucleus (SCN) carries information about the light-dark cycle in the environment to the SCN. The size of the SCN is enlarged for viewing. Axons from the left eye are labeled in red and from the right eye in green. Both eyes project so diffusely to the two overlying SCN that they are outlined in yellow. (SCN photograph courtesy of Cynthia L. Jordan).