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Although differences in visual pigments between developmental stages of the European eel are well known, the expected differences in spectral sensitivity have not been demonstrated at the electrophysiological level. In fact, one past electroretinographic study led to the conclusion that in eels there is no change in scotopic sensitivity, with increasing sexual maturity. In the present experiments, electroretinograms (ERGs) were recorded from in situ eyecups of immobilized eels Anguilla anguilla (L.) caught in coastal running waters. It was shown that the ERG b-wave is as good an indicator of spectral sensitivity as the unmasked late receptor potential (LRP) which directly reflects the responsiveness of photoreceptors. Complete spectral-sensitivity curves, based on b-wave thresholds and on thresholds of LRP subsequently isolated by means of sodium iodate, have been obtained in the same eel. Using fitted amplitude-log intensity functions for threshold calculation, and two models for computer-assisted fitting of spectral-sensitivity curves, significant differences in λmax were found between yellow and silver developmental stages of the eel, identified by ocular index measurements.
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