Pulses of Melanopsin-Directed Contrast Produce Highly Reproducible Pupil Responses That Are Insensitive to a Change in Background Radiance.
McAdams H., Igdalova A., Spitschan M., Brainard DH., Aguirre GK.
Purpose: To measure the pupil response to pulses of melanopsin-directed contrast, and compare this response to those evoked by cone-directed contrast and spectrally narrowband stimuli. Methods: Three-second unipolar pulses were used to elicit pupil responses in human subjects across three sessions. Thirty subjects were studied in session 1, and most returned for sessions 2 and 3. The stimuli of primary interest were "silent substitution" cone- and melanopsin-directed modulations. Red and blue narrowband pulses delivered using the post-illumination pupil response (PIPR) paradigm were also studied. Sessions 1 and 2 were identical, whereas session 3 involved modulations around higher radiance backgrounds. The pupil responses were fit by a model whose parameters described response amplitude and temporal shape. Results: Group average pupil responses for all stimuli overlapped extensively across sessions 1 and 2, indicating high reproducibility. Model fits indicate that the response to melanopsin-directed contrast is prolonged relative to that elicited by cone-directed contrast. The group average cone- and melanopsin-directed pupil responses from session 3 were highly similar to those from sessions 1 and 2, suggesting that these responses are insensitive to background radiance over the range studied. The increase in radiance enhanced persistent pupil constriction to blue light. Conclusions: The group average pupil response to stimuli designed through silent substitution provides a reliable probe of the function of a melanopsin-mediated system in humans. As disruption of the melanopsin system may relate to clinical pathology, the reproducibility of response suggests that silent substitution pupillometry can test if melanopsin signals differ between clinical groups.