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Initial-image and afterimage discrimination in the human rod and cone systems


, : Initial-image and afterimage discrimination in the human rod and cone systems. Journal of Physiology 294: 165-179

1. The rod-isolation technique of Aguilar & Stiles (1954) was used to obtain scotopic increment-threshold functions in the dark-adapted eye. Increment-threshold functions were obtained for background durations of 50 to 500 msec, but the onset of the background and increment fields was always simultaneous. In all conditions the duration of the increment field was 50 msec. 2. The pattern of results obtained is the same as that reported earlier for the cone system (Geisler, 1978). For background durations greater than that of the increment field, the increment-threshold functions have two distinct branches. It was shown, by measuring action spectra, that both branches reflect the sensitivity of the rod system. 3. When the increment thresholds are plotted as a function of background retinal illuminance, all the lower branches superimpose. This implies that those thresholds are dependent only on the number of background quanta absorbed during presentation of the increment field. On the other hand, when the increment thresholds are plotted as a function of background energy, all the upper branches superimpose, implying that those thresholds are determined by the total number of background quanta absorbed. 4. For the thresholds falling on the lower branches observes reported that the increment field was detected in the initital image of the background and increment fields when they were flashed. For the upper branches, the increment field was detected in a short-term afterimage that appeared after the background was extinguished. The higher the background intensity the longer was the latency until the increment appeared in the afterimage. 5. All of the above findings appear to be consistent with the known properties of the electrical responses of vertebrate photoreceptors. A model based on Penn & Hagins' (1972) model for the photocurrent in rat rods predicts, fairly accurately, the rod and cone increment-threshold results. The parameters estimated by fitting the model support the hypothesis that the short-term rod and cone afterimages are due to the relatively slow decay of internal transmitter, but they suggest that post-receptor mechanisms are responsible for the threshold saturation observed with flashed backgrounds.

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PMID: 512940


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