The cone inputs to the unique-hue mechanisms

Sophie M. Wuerger*, Philip Atkinson, Simon Cropper

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our aim was to characterise the chromatic mechanisms that yield the four unique hues: red, green, yellow and blue. We measured the null planes for all four unique hues and report the following two main results. (1) We confirm that three chromatic mechanisms are required to account for the four unique hues. These three chromatic mechanisms do not coincide with the chromatic tuning found in parvocellular LGN neurones, i.e., neurones tuned to L - M and S - (L + M); these subcortical chromatic mechanisms are hence not the neural substrate of the perceptual unique hues and further higher-order colour mechanisms need to be postulated. Our results are consistent with the idea that the two higher-order colour mechanisms that yield unique red and unique green respectively combine the incremental and decremental responses of the subcortical chromatic mechanisms with different weights. In contrast, unique yellow and unique blue can be explained by postulating a single higher-order chromatic mechanism that combines the incremental and decremental subcortical chromatic responses with similar weights. (2) The variability between observers is small when expressed in terms of perceptual errors, which is consistent with the hypothesis that the colour vision system in adult humans is able to recalibrate itself based on prior visual experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3210-3223
Number of pages14
JournalVision Research
Issue number25-26
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2005


  • Colour
  • Cone
  • Cortex
  • Psychophysics
  • Vision


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