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Selected recent advances in color vision

1 May 1994


The scientific literature presents an immense, seemingly impenetrable mass of material to the uninitiated, buried in an elaborate sub-language all of its own. Even to clinical people, it can prove to be a very difficult task to keep up with ongoing minutia. The overwhelming and ever accelerating nature of scientific advance has led to the high utility of review articles and to models. Reviews permit workers to digest condensed treatments of broad collections of research in a period of time and with a level of effort far less than attending to original research descriptions. Models in turn serve to assimilate often huge amounts of material, providing organization in a fashion that can be more easily understood and employed. The present literature research study reviews selected contemporary research that accomplishes or portends to stimulate new thinking and modeling about color vision. Work from many different areas has been chosen to highlight the fact that several new paradigms are emerging to challenge conventional wisdom. Two lines of study are discussed that address the visual system at the level of light transduction into nervous activity, accompanied by two other distinct lines of work treating multiple levels of the visual pathways. Although the four subject research groups are all concerned with distinct issues, in some cases overlap is apparent. The goal has been to create a broad survey, not meticulous refinement. Rigorous description and analysis of the tremendous known detail at the cellular and systems levels is far beyond the scope of the present discussion. What has been done is to present a brief discussion of the historical information about the visual system, especially concerning color processing, to provide a backdrop for discussions of specific examples of advancements in color vision.


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