Perceptually, color is used to discriminate objects by hue and to identify color boundaries. The primate retina and the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) have cell populations sensitive to color modulation, but the role of the primary visual cortex (V1) in color signal processing is uncertain. We reevaluated color processing in V1 by studying single-neuron responses to luminance and to equiluminant color patterns equated for cone contrast. Many neurons respond robustly to both equiluminant color and luminance modulation (color-luminance cells). Also, there are neurons that prefer luminance (luminance cells), and a few neurons that prefer color (color cells). Surprisingly, most color-luminance cells are spatial-frequency tuned, with approximately equal selectivity for chromatic and achromatic patterns. Therefore, V1 retains the color sensitivity provided by the LGN, and adds spatial selectivity for color boundaries.
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