Development of visual evoked responses to tritan,red-green and luminance stimuli in human infants

  • Catherine M. Suttle

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The principal aim of this work was to investigate the development of the S-cone colour-opponent pathway in human infants aged 4 weeks to 6 months. This was achieved by recording transient visual evoked responses to pattern-onset stimuli along a tritanopic confusion axis (tritan stimuli) at and around the adult isoluminant match. For comparison, visual evoked responses to red-green and luminance-modulated stimuli were recorded from the same infants at the same ages. Evoked responses were also recorded from colour-normal adults for comparison with those of the infants.
The transient VEP allowed observation of response morphology as luminance differences were introduced to the chromatic stimuli. In this way, an estimate of isoluminance was possible in infants. Estimated isoluminant points for a group of six infants aged 6 to 10 weeks closely approximated the adult isoluminant match. This finding has implications for the use of photometric isoluminance in infant work, and suggests that photopic spectral sensitivity is similar in infants and adults.
Abnormalities of the visual evoked responses to tritan, red-green and luminance-modulated stimuli in an infant with cystic fibrosis are reported. The results suggest abnormal function of the retino-striate visual pathway in this infant, and it is argued that these may be secondary to his illness, although data from more infants with cystic fibrosis are needed to clarify this further.
A group of nine healthy infants demonstrated evoked responses to tritan stimuli by 4 to 10 weeks and to red-green stimuli by 6 to 11 weeks post-term age. Responses to luminance-modulated stimuli were present in all nine infants at the earliest age tested, namely 4 weeks post-term. The slightly earlier age of onset of evoked responses to tritan stimuli than for red-green may be explained by the relatively lower cone contrast afforded by red-green stimuli. Latency of the evoked response to both types of chromatic stimuli and to luminance-modulated stimuli decreased with age at a similar rate, suggesting that the visual pathways transmitting luminance and chromatic information mature at similar rates in young infants.
Date of AwardFeb 1997
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorGraham F.A. Harding (Supervisor)


  • development
  • vision
  • chromatic
  • infant
  • tritan

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