Skip to main content Accesibility Help

Spectral sensitivity of primate photoreceptors

  • J.L. Schnapf (a1), T.W. Kraft (a2), B.J. Nunn (a2) and Baylor D.A. (a2)

The spectral sensitivities of rods and cones in macaque and human retinas were determined by recording the membrane current from single outer segments. In the macaque retina, the wavelengths of maximum sensitivity were at about 430, 530, and 561 nm for the blue, green, and red cones, respectively, and at 491 nm for the rods. The shapes of the spectra of the three cones were similar when plotted on a log wavenumber scale; the rod spectrum was slightly broader. Spectral sensitivities of the red and green cones from a human retina were virtually identical to those of macaque cones. For comparison with human psychophysical measurements, the rod and cone spectra were adjusted to give the sensitivities expected for light incident on the cornea of the human eye. These functions satisfactorily predicted the scotopic and photopic luminosity functions as well as results from human color-matching experiments. The adjusted spectra of the red and green cones also agreed well with the π-mechanisms of Stiles (1953, 1959).

Hide All
Baylor, D.A., Nunn, B.J. & Schnapf, J.L. (1984). The photocurrent, noise, and spectral sensitivity of rods of the monkey Macaca fascicularis. Journal of Physiology 357, 575607.
Baylor, D.A., Nunn, B.J. & Schnapf, J.L. (1987). Spectral sensitivity of cones of the monkey Macaca fascicularis. Journal of Physiology 390, 145160.
Bowmaker, J.K., Dartnall, H.J.A. & Mollon, J.D. (1980). Microspectrophotometric demonstration of four classes of photoreceptor in an Old World primate, Macaca fascicularis. Journal of Physiology 298, 131143.
Cornwall, M.C., Macnichol, E.F. & Fein, A. (1984). Absorptance and spectral sensitivity measurements of rod photoreceptors of the tiger salamander, Ambystoma tigrinum. Vision Research 24, 16511659.
Crawford, B.H. (1949). The scotopic visibility function. Proceedings of the Physical Society B 62, 321334.
Dartnall, H.J.A., Bowmaker, J.K. & Mollon, J.D. (1983). Human visual pigments: microspectrophotometric results from the eyes of seven persons. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 220, 115130.
DeValois, R., Morgan, H.C., Polson, M., Mead, W.R. & Hull, E.M. (1974). Psychophysical studies on monkey vision, I: Macaque luminosity and color vision tests. Vision Research 14, 5367.
Estevez, O. (1979). On the fundamental data base of normal and dichromatic color vision. Ph.D. Thesis, University of Amsterdam, Krips Repros Meppel, Amsterdam.
Harosi, F.I. (1975). Absorption spectra and linear dichroism of some amphibian photoreceptors. Journal of General Physiology 66, 357382.
Kraft, T.W. (1988). Transduction by cones in the golden-mantled ground squirrel, Citellus lateralis. Biophysical Journal 53(2), 474a.
Lamb, T.D., Macnaughton, P.A. & Yau, K.-Y. (1981). Spatial spread of activation and background desensitization in toad rod outer segments. Journal of Physiology 319, 463496.
Levine, J.S. & Macnichol, E.F. (1985). Microspectrophotometry of primate photoreceptors: Art, artifact and analysis. In The Visual System, ed. Fein, A. & Levine, J., pp 7387. New York: A.R. Liss.
MacNichol, E.F., Levine, J.S., Mansfield, R.J.W., lipetz, L.E. & Collins, B.A. (1983). Microspectrophotometry of visual pigments in primate photoreceptors. In Colour Vision, ed. Mollon, J.D. & Sharpe, L.T., pp 1338. London: Academic Press.
Mansfield, R.J.W. (1985). Primate photoreceptors and cone mechanisms. In The Visual System, ed. Fein, A. & Levine, J.S., pp 89106. New York: A.R. Liss.
Mansfield, R.J.W., Levine, J.S., Lipetz, L.E., Collins, B.A., Raymond, G. & Macnichol, E.F. (1984). Blue sensitive cones in the primate retina: Microspectrophotometry of the visual pigment. Brain Research 56, 389394.
Naka, K.I. & Rushton, W.A.H. (1966). Spotentials from colour units in the retina of fish (Cyprinidae). Journal of Physiology 185, 536555.
Neitz, J. & Jacobs, G.H. (1986). Polymorphism of the long-wave length cone in normal human colour vision. Nature 323, 623625.
Schnapf, J.L., Kraft, T.W. & Baylor, D.A. (1987). Spectral sensitivity of human cone photoreceptors. Nature 325, 439441.
Smith, V.C. & Pokorny, J. (1972). Spectral sensitivity of color-blind observers and the cone photopigments. Vision Research 12, 20592071.
Stiles, W.S. (1953). Further studies of visual mechanisms of the two-colour threshold technique. Coloquio sobre problems opticos de la vision, Madrid, Union Internationale de Physique Pure et Appliquée 1, 65103.
Stiles, W.S. (1959). Color vision: the approach through increment threshold sensitivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 45, 100114.
Stiles, W.S. & Burch, J.M. (1955). Interim report to the Commission Internationale de I'Eclairage, Zurich, 1955, on the National Physical Laboratory's investigation of colour-matching. Optica Acta 2, 168181.
Vos, J.J. (1978). Colorimetric and photometric properties of a 2° fundamental observer. Color Research and Application 3, 125128.
Wyszecki, G. & Stiles, W.S. (1982). Color Science. Concepts and Methods, Quantitative Data and Formulae. New York: Wiley.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Visual Neuroscience
  • ISSN: 0952-5238
  • EISSN: 1469-8714
  • URL: /core/journals/visual-neuroscience
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed