Not seeing is not believing: improving the visibility of your fluorescence images.
The digital age has brought both technical advances and ethical quandaries regarding data acquisition and image presentation in the field of cell biology. Image manipulation has drawn considerable attention in the past decade, leading to general guidelines for ethical data processing. However, effective methods of image presentation have been discussed only cursorily and have been largely overlooked. Under standard viewing conditions, the human visual system imposes limitations for readers analyzing fluorescence images. In this paper, I discuss the advantages and limitations of image-manipulation techniques with respect to the human visual system, including contrast stretching, nonlinear grayscale transformations, and pseudocoloring. While online data viewing presents innovative ways to access image information, most images continue to be viewed in static publications, in which image presentation is critical for effective information transmission.
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