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Rayleigh matches in carriers of inherited color vision defects: The contribution from the third L/M photopigment

  • YANG SUN (a1) and STEVEN K. SHEVELL (a1) (a2)

The mother or daughter of a male with an X-chromosome-linked red/green color defect is an obligate carrier of the color deficient gene array. According to the Lyonization hypothesis, a female carrier's defective gene is expressed and thus carriers may have more than two types of pigments in the L/M photopigment range. An open question is how a carrier's third cone pigment in the L/M range affects the postreceptoral neural signals encoding color. Here, a model considered how the signal from the third pigment pools with signals from the normal's two pigments in the L/M range. Three alternative assumptions were considered for the signal from the third cone pigment: it pools with the signal from (1) L cones, (2) M cones, or (3) both types of cones. Spectral-sensitivity peak, optical density, and the relative number of each cone type were factors in the model. The model showed that differences in Rayleigh matches among carriers can be due to individual differences in the number of the third type of L/M cone, and the spectral sensitivity peak and optical density of the third L/M pigment; surprisingly, however, individual differences in the cone ratio of the other two cone types (one L and the other M) did not affect the match. The predicted matches were compared to Schmidt's (1934/1955) report of carriers' Rayleigh matches. For carriers of either protanomaly or deuteranomaly, these matches were not consistent with the signal from the third L/M pigment combining with only the signal from M cones. The matches could be accounted for by pooling the third-pigment's response with L-cone signals, either exclusively or randomly with M-cone responses as well.

Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Yang Sun, Visual Science Laboratories, University of Chicago, 940 East 57thStreet, Chicago, IL 60637. E-mail:
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Visual Neuroscience
  • ISSN: 0952-5238
  • EISSN: 1469-8714
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