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The Verriest Lecture: Short-wave-sensitive cone pathways across the life span.


Structurally and functionally, the short-wave-sensitive (S) cone pathways are thought to decline more rapidly with normal aging than the middle- and long-wave-sensitive cone pathways. This would explain the celebrated results by Verriest and others demonstrating that the largest age-related color discrimination losses occur for stimuli on a tritan axis. Here, we challenge convention, arguing from psychophysical data that selective S-cone pathway losses do not cause declines in color discrimination. We show substantial declines in chromatic detection and discrimination, as well as in temporal and spatial vision tasks, that are mediated by S-cone pathways. These functional losses are not, however, unique to S-cone pathways. Finally, despite reduced photon capture by S cones, their postreceptoral pathways provide robust signals for the visual system to renormalize itself to maintain nearly stable color perception across the life span.

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