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Biological Research

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BONNARDEL, VALÈRIE  and  VARELA, FRANCISCO J.. Color vision in the comb frequency domain. Biol. Res. [online]. 2003, vol.36, n.1, pp.119-134. ISSN 0716-9760.

In 1982, Horace Barlow considered the question of human trichromacy in the context of information theory: according to the Sampling Theorem, three types of receptors covering the visible spectrum (400- -700 nm) might be sufficient to reconstruct the color signal. Although Barlow was led to reject the direct application of the Sampling Theorem to explain color dimensionality, the theoretical framework offers a fresh point of view for analyzing the color system in conjunction with the physical characteristics of natural color signals. This review aims to illustrate that if the strict mathematical reconstruction (as implied by the Sampling Theorem) is replaced by a pragmatic approximation of color signals, then trichromacy, with its subsequent opponent-color process, could be regarded as an optimization of color constancy abilities in the spectral environment of primates. Higher dimension systems (tetrachromacy) found in other species can also serve the purpose of color constancy optimization in environments where color signals exhibit a finer spectral structure.

Keywords : Color vision; color dimensionality,; comb-filtered spectra; color constancy; Fourier analysis.

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