Skip to main content Accessibility help

Modelling the Rayleigh match

  • P.B.M. THOMAS (a1) and J.D. MOLLON (a1)


We use the photopigment template of Baylor et al. (1987) to define the set of Rayleigh matches that would be satisfied by a photopigment having a given wavelength of peak sensitivity (λmax) and a given optical density (OD). For an observer with two photopigments in the region of the Rayleigh primaries, the observer's unique match is defined by the intersection of the sets of matches that satisfy the individual pigments. The use of a template allows us to illustrate the general behavior of Rayleigh matches as the absorption spectra of the underlying spectra are altered. In a plot of the Y setting against the red–green ratio (R), both an increase in λmax and an increase in optical density lead to an anticlockwise rotation of the locus of the matches satisfied by a given pigment. Since both these factors affect the match, it is not possible to reverse the analysis and define uniquely the photopigments corresponding to a specific Rayleigh match. However, a way to constrain the set of candidate photopigments would be to determine the trajectory of the change of match as the effective optical density is altered (by, say, bleaching or field size).


Corresponding author

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Peter B.M. Thomas, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3EB, UK. E-mail:


Hide All


Alpern, M. (1979). Lack of uniformity in colour matching. Journal of Physiology 288, 85105.
Alpern, M. & Moeller, J. (1977). The red and green cone visual pigments of deuteranomalous trichromacy. Journal of Physiology 266, 647675.
Alpern, M. & Wake, T. (1977). Cone pigments in human deutan colour vision defects. Journal of Physiology 266, 595612.
Alpern, M., Fulton, A.B., & Baker, B.N. (1987). “Self-screening” of rhodopsin in rod outer segments. Vision Research 27, 14591470.
Baker, H.D. (1966). Single-variable anomaloscope matches during recovery from artificial red blindness. Journal of the Optical Society of America 56, 686689.
Baylor, D.A., Nunn, B.J., & Schnapf, J.L. (1987). Spectral sensitivity of cones of the monkey Macaca fascicularis. Journal of Physiology 390, 145160.
Bone, R.A., Landrum, J.T., & Cains, A. (1992). Optical density spectra of the macular pigment in vivo and in vitro. Vision Research 32, 105110.
Brindley, G.S. (1953). The effects on colour vision of adaptation to very bright lights. Journal of Physiology 122, 332350.
Burns, S.A. & Elsner, A.E. (1993). Color matching at high illuminances: Photopigment optical density and pupil entry. Journal of the Optical Society of America A 10, 221230.
He, J.C. & Shevell, S.K. (1995). Variation in color matching and discrimination among deuteranomalous trichromats: Theoretical implications of small differences in photopigments. Vision Research 35, 25792588.
Hurvich, L.M. (1972). Color vision deficiencies. In Visual Psychophysics, Vol. 7/4, ed. Jameson, D. & Hurvich, L.M., pp. 582624. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
Merbs, S.L. & Nathans, J. (1992). Absorption spectra of the hybrid pigments responsible for anomalous color vision. Science 258, 464466.
Mitchell, D.E. & Rushton, W.A. (1971a). The red–green pigments of normal vision. Vision Research 11, 10451056.
Mitchell, D.E. & Rushton, W.A. (1971b). Visual pigments in dichromats. Vision Research 11, 10331043.
Pokorny, J. & Smith, V.C. (1976). Effect of field size on red–green color mixture equations. Journal of the Optical Society of America 66, 705708.
Pokorny, J., Smith, V.C., & Ernest, J.T. (1980). Macular colour vision defects: Specialized psychophysical testing in acquired and hereditary chorioretinal diseases. International Ophthalmology Clinics 20, 5381.
Rayleigh, L. (1881). Experiments on colour. Nature 25, 6466.
Rushton, W.A. (1972). Pigments and signals in colour vision. Journal of Physiology 220, 131P.
Smith, V.C., Pokorny, J., & Diddie, K.R. (1978). Color matching and Stiles-Crawford effect in central serous choroidopathy. Modern Problems in Ophthalmology 19, 284295.
Stockman, A., Sharpe, L.T., & Fach, C. (1999). The spectral sensitivity of the human short-wavelength sensitive cones derived from thresholds and color matches. Vision Research 39, 29012927.
Willis, M.P. & Farnsworth, D. (1952). Comparative Evaluation of Anomaloscopes, Report #190, pp. 189. U.S. Naval Submarine Base, New London.
Winderickx, J., Battisti, L., Hibiya, Y., Motulsky, A.G., & Deeb, S.S. (1993). Haplotype diversity in the human red and green opsin genes: Evidence for frequent sequence exchange in exon 3. Human Molecular Genetics 2, 14131421.
Wyszecki, G. & Stiles, W.S. (1980). High-level trichromatic color matching and the pigment-bleaching hypothesis. Vision Research 20, 2337.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed