After Fundulus heteroclitus have been for some time in the laboratory, under conditions favorable for growth, and after habituation of the fishes to the simple routine manipulations of the observational procedure required, they are found to give reproducible values of the mean critical flash illumination (Im) resulting in response to visual flicker. The measurements were made with equality of light time and dark time in the flash cycle, at 21.5°C.
Log Im as a function of flash frequency F has the same general form as that obtained with other fishes tested, and for vertebrates typically: the curve is a drawn-out S, with a second inflection at the low I end.
In details, however, the curve is somewhat extreme. Its composite form is readily resolved into the two usual parts. Each of these expresses a contribution in which log I, as a function of F, is accurately expressed by taking F as the summation (integral) of a probability distribution of d log I, as for the flicker response contour of other animals.
As critical intensity I increases, the contribution of rod elements gradually fades out; this decay also adheres to a probability integral.
The rod contribution seen in the curve for Fundulus is larger, absolutely and relatively to that from the cones, than that found with a number of other vertebrates. The additive overlapping of the rod and cone effects therefore produces a comparatively extreme distortion of the resulting F-log I curve.
The F-log Im curve is shifted to lower intensities as result of previous exposure to supranormal temperatures. This effect is only very slowly reversible. The value of Fmax. for each of the components of the duplex curve remains unaffected. The rod and cone segments are shifted to the same extent. The persisting increase of excitability thus fails to reveal any chemical or other differentiation of the excitability mechanism in the two groups of elements.
Certain bearings of the data upon the theory of the flicker response contour are discussed, with reference to the measurements of variation of critical intensity and to the form of the F-log I curve. The quantitative properties of the data accord with the theory derived from earlier observations on other forms.