Synthesis

The Young-Helmholtz and Hering theories are both partially correct. Hurvich (1981; see Atkinson et al., 1993) argued that it is both possible and desirable to combine the two theories. According to this two-stage theory, signals from the three cone types identified by the Young-Helmholtz theory are sent to the opponent cells described within the opponent-process theory. The details of what is involved are shown in Figure 2.12. The short-wavelength cones send excitatory signals to the blue-yellow opponent cells, and the long-wavelength cones send inhibitory signals. If the strength of the excitatory signals is greater than that of the inhibitory ones, blue is seen; if the opposite is the case, then yellow is seen.

The medium-wavelength cones send excitatory signals to the green-red opponent cells, and the long-wavelength cones send inhibitory signals. Green is seen if the excitatory signals are stronger than the inhibitory ones, and red is seen if that is not the case. There is support for the theory from individuals suffering from the various forms of deficient colour perception discussed earlier.

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