September 2016
Volume 57, Issue 12
Open Access
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2016
The impact of melanopsin activation levels on color perception
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Dingcai Cao
    Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States
  • Pablo A Barrionuevo
    Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, United States
    Institute of Research in Light, National University of Tucumán, San Miguel de Tucumán, Tucumán, Argentina
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships   Dingcai Cao, None; Pablo Barrionuevo, None
  • Footnotes
    Support  NIH Grant P30EY01792; Unrestricted Departmental Grant from the Research to Prevent Blindness; IBRO Return home fellowship
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science September 2016, Vol.57, 193. doi:
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      Dingcai Cao, Pablo A Barrionuevo; The impact of melanopsin activation levels on color perception. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2016;57(12):193.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Purpose : Melanopsin-containing intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) are important for several sub-conscious non-image-forming functions, such as circadian photoentrainment and the pupil light reflex. However, ipRGCs also project to the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) that relays retinal visual information to the visual cortex, suggesting that melanopsin activation may contribute to conscious visual perception. The purpose of the study was to assess the impact of melanopsin activation levels on color perception.

Methods : A lab-developed five-primary photostimulator was used to control rod, cone and melanopsin activation levels. The stimulus field was a 30° circular field with the central 10.5° blocked to minimize the potential artifact of spectrally selective macular pigment absorption. For steady lights with eight cone chromaticities [L/(L+M): 0.73-0.8; S/(L+M): 0.1-0.3], the perceived hues were rated by a hue scaling method at two melanopsin activation levels (IB and IINC, with IINC 38% higher than IB). Three light levels (200, 2,000 and 20,000 Td) were tested.

Results : At the baseline melanopsin activation level, the steady lights were perceived as greenish-yellow or reddish-yellow. An increase in melanopsin activation levels by 38% with fixed rod and cone excitations shifted the perceived hues to be more greenish or less reddish and more yellowness for some of the cone chromaticities tested. For some other chromaticities, however, melanopsin activation levels did not alter the perceived hues. Further, hue shifts caused by different melanopsin activation levels varied with light levels.

Conclusions : A change in melanopsin activation level alone in steady lights can alter perceived hues. However, the impact of melanopsin activation on color perception depends on cone chromaticities and light levels.

This is an abstract that was submitted for the 2016 ARVO Annual Meeting, held in Seattle, Wash., May 1-5, 2016.


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