Willmers Color Theory

British physiologist E. N. Willmer (dates unknown) proposed a theory of color vision that postulates three mechanisms in the retina: cones, dark-adapting rods, and non-dark-adapting rods. Willmer's color theory asserts that color vision may be explained by the relative ratio of rods and cones at various wavelengths, and indicates that when a curve is plotted to show the summation of rod and cone responses at various wavelengths of the visible spectrum, the curve has some affinity to the well-known color triangle. Thus, Willmer's color theory was developed via analyses of sensitivity to wavelengths and relates to empirically-derived hue/color charts; the theory also attempts to account for the relationship of hue to intensity and with the white-black phenomena in color vision. Willmer (1943) presents his theory, examines the physiology of color vision, and discusses the deficiencies in color-vision theory in the journal Nature (London) and, in the same issue of the journal - in response to his article, K. J. W. Craik, H. Hartridge, and A. H. S. Holbourn raise several objections to Willmer's theory. Craik describes an experiment that demonstrates that a hue match with yellow or green is impossible when red and blue are used within the photopic/scotopic ratios covering the regions stated in Willmer's theory, and Craik also criticizes the theory concerning the production of the "white sensation." Hartridge describes an experiment that fails to corroborate certain assumptions of Willmer's theory, namely, that strong stimulation of the rods and cones simultaneously would cause an appreciation of green, yellow, or orange, whereas weak stimulation of those receptors should result in the perception of violet, mauve, or crimson. Holbourn offers a criticism of Will-mer's theory by pointing out that any workable color theory must have three independent variables, but Willmer's theory only has two independent variables. See also COLOR VISION, THEORIES/LAWS OF. REFERENCES

Willmer, E. N. (1943). Physiology of colour vision. Nature (London), 151-152, 191, 213-215, 632-635. Willmer, E. N. (1946). Retinal structure and colour vision: A restatement and an hypothesis. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Willmer, E. N. (1950). Some aspects of colour-blindness. British Medical Journal, 2, 1141-1145. Giles, G. H. (1950). Colour vision: Some recent trends in practice. British Journal of Physiological Optics, 7, 9095.

Willmer, E. N. (1955). The physiology of vision. Annual Review of Physiology, 17, 339-366.

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