Colour and luminance interactions in the visual perception of motion

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We sought to determine the extent to which red–green, colour–opponent mechanisms in the human visual system play a role in the perception of drifting luminance–modulated targets. Contrast sensitivity for the directional discrimination of drifting luminance–modulated (yellow–black) test sinusoids was measured following adaptation to isoluminant red–green sinusoids drifting in either the same or opposite direction. When the test and adapt stimuli drifted in the same direction, large sensitivity losses were evident at all test temporal frequencies employed (1–16 Hz). The magnitude of the loss was independent of temporal frequency. When adapt and test stimuli drifted in opposing directions, large sensitivity losses were evident at lower temporal frequencies (1–4 Hz) and declined with increasing temporal frequency. Control studies showed that this temporal–frequency–dependent effect could not reflect the activity of achromatic units. Our results provide evidence that chromatic mechanisms contribute to the perception of luminance–modulated motion targets drifting at speeds of up to at least 32°s-1. We argue that such mechanisms most probably lie within a parvocellular–dominated cortical visual pathway, sensitive to both chromatic and luminance modulation, but only weakly selective for the direction of stimulus motion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1011-1016
Number of pages6
JournalProceeding of the Royal Society: Series B
Issue number1495
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2002


  • vision
  • motion
  • colour
  • luminance
  • parvocellular
  • magnocellular


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