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Contribution of a luminance-dependent S-cone mechanism to non-assimilative color spreading in the watercolor configuration

By Eiji eKimura and Mikako eKuroki


In the watercolor configuration composed of wavy double contours, both assimilative and non-assimilative color spreading have been demonstrated depending on the luminance conditions of the inner and outer contours (IC and OC, respectively). This study investigated how the induced color in the watercolor configuration was modulated by combinations of the IC and the OC color, particularly addressing non-assimilative color spreading. In two experiments, the IC color was fixed to a certain color and combined with various colors selected from a hue circle centered at the background white color. Color spreading was quantified with a chromatic cancellation technique. Results showed that both the magnitude and the apparent hue of the color spreading were largely changed with the luminance condition. When the IC contrast (Weber contrast of the IC to the background luminance) was smaller in size than the OC contrast (higher IC luminance condition), the color spreading was assimilative. When the luminance condition was reversed and the IC contrast was greater than the OC contrast (lower IC luminance condition), the color spreading was non-assimilative and yellowish. When the color spreading was analyzed in terms of cone-opponent excitations, the results were consistent with the interpretation that the color spreading is explainable by a combination of chromatic diffusion from the IC and chromatically opponent induction from the OC. The color spreading in the higher IC luminance condition mainly reflected the chromatic diffusion by both (L–M) and S cone-opponent mechanisms. The non-assimilative color spreading in the lower IC luminance condition mostly reflected S-cone mediated opponent induction and the contribution of -S inducing mechanisms was differentially large. These findings provided several constraints on possible visual mechanisms underlying the watercolor effect

Topics: Visual Illusions, S-cone, assimilation, Color spreading, watercolor effect, cone opponency
Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
Year: 2014
DOI identifier: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00980
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