In the context of color perception on modern wide-gamut displays with narrowband spectral primaries, we performed a theoretical analysis on various aspects of physiological observers proposed by CIE TC 1-36 (CIEPO06). We allowed certain physiological factors to vary, which was not considered in the CIEPO06 framework. For example, we analyzed that the long-wave-sensitive (LWS) or medium-wave-sensitive (MWS) peak wavelength shift in the photopigment absorption spectra, a factor not modeled in CIEPO06, contributed more toward observer variability than some of the factors considered in the model. Further, we compared the color-matching functions derived from the CIEPO06 model and the CIE standard colorimetric observer to the average observer data from three distinct subgroups of Stiles–Burch observers, formed on the basis of observer ages (22–23 years, 27–29 years, and 49–50 years). The errors in predicting the and color-matching functions of the intragroup average observers in the long-wave range and in the medium-wave range, respectively, were generally more in the case of the CIEPO06 model compared to the standard colorimetric observer and manifested in both spectral and chromaticity space. In contrast, the short-wave-sensitive function of the standard colorimetric observer performed poorly compared to the CIEPO06 model for all three subgroups. Finally, a constrained nonlinear optimization on the CIEPO06 model outputs showed that a peak wavelength shift of photopigment density alone could not improve the model prediction errors at higher wavelengths. As an alternative, two optimized weighting functions for each of the LWS and MWS cone photopigment densities led to significant improvement in the prediction of intra-age-group average data for both the 22–23 year and 49–50 year age groups. We hypothesize that the assumption in the CIEPO06 model that the peak optical density of visual pigments does not vary with age is false and is the source of these prediction errors at higher wavelengths. Correcting these errors in the model can lead to an improved age-dependent observer and can also help update the current CIE standard colorimetric observer. Accordingly, it would reduce the discrepancies between color matches with broadband spectral primaries and color matches with narrowband spectral primaries.
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