Colour and Brightness Coding in the Central Nervous System: Theoretical Aspects and Visual Evoked Potentials to Homogeneous Red and Green Stimuli
We designed visual evoked potentials experiments to study the differential aspects of colour and brightness coding in man. The substitution of equally bright red and green stimuli for a background yellow was investigated and compared with different luminance increments and decrements of red and green. A dominant N87 component was found for a colour change from yellow to brighter red colours, which was less pronounced for green and absent for yellow luminance changes. It is also absent for pure red luminance increments and green luminance changes, but reappears with red luminance decrements or red-offset. The data are discussed within the framework of a new concept of how the visual system fuses red-green information and black-white border information. Retinal X-cells can transmit colour and high spatial frequency achromatic information simultaneously by encoding only the presence of edges (a.c.) for the black-white stimuli and the presence of both edges (a.c.) and uniform areas of colour (d.c.) for red-green stimuli. Phylogenetically this kind of information transmission enables colour vision to be implemented in a retina such as the cat's by adding only a second class of cones. Barlow's economy principle will be violated for colour in the periphery, but restored early in the striate cortex where there is an early decoding of the combined chromatic and achromatic information by the concentric double opponent cells. The N87 behaviour correlates with the proposed discharge of peripheral X-type cells, but not with the discharge of cortical double opponent concentric or simple cells, which no longer respond to homogeneous colour stimuli. It is suggested that N87 may be generated by geniculate afferents in the dendritic arborization of cortical cells, reflecting the behaviour of peripheral units, and thus the violation of the economy principle, rather than the next step in cortical processing. The early cortical restoration of the economy principle is supported by the absence of any further dissociated behaviour for colour and brightness in later components.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B
- Pub Date:
- February 1986