Cortical double-opponent cells in color perception: Perceptual scaling and chromatic visual evoked potentials

Valerie Nunez, Robert M. Shapley, James Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the early visual cortex V1, there are currently only two known neural substrates for color perception: single-opponent and double-opponent cells. Our aim was to explore the relative contributions of these neurons to color perception. We measured the perceptual scaling of color saturation for equiluminant color checkerboard patterns (designed to stimulate double-opponent neurons preferentially) and uniformly colored squares (designed to stimulate only single-opponent neurons) at several cone contrasts. The spatially integrative responses of single-opponent neurons would produce the same response magnitude for checkerboards as for uniform squares of the same space-averaged cone contrast. However, perceived saturation of color checkerboards was higher than for the corresponding squares. The perceptual results therefore imply that double-opponent cells are involved in color perception of patterns. We also measured the chromatic visual evoked potential (cVEP) produced by the same stimuli; checkerboard cVEPs were much larger than those for corresponding squares, implying that double-opponent cells also contribute to the cVEP response. The total Fourier power of the cVEP grew sublinearly with cone contrast. However, the 6-Hz Fourier component’s power grew linearly with contrast-like saturation perception. This may also indicate that cortical coding of color depends on response dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Chromatic visual evoked potential
  • Color perception
  • Cone contrast
  • Saturation
  • V1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Artificial Intelligence


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