Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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See and S-cones

The positioning of photoreceptor cells in the retina and their effect on vision

06 July 2020

See and S-cones

We see the outside world as it appears projected on the backs of our eyes – where the retina’s photoreceptor cells react to differently-coloured wavelengths of light, helping to send pictures to the brain. But not all photoreceptors are the same, and they’re arranged in different patterns, giving different species unique visual powers. These maps of the curved surface of a mouse retina, laid out flat like a projected map of the Earth, highlight photoreceptors in bright colours (top row), while a specific type called S-cones cluster on the lower of side of the retina (bottom row). This is where light rays from above come into focus, suggesting mice have sensitive colour vision dedicated to the skies and trees, where flying predators hover or their next meal might be. Applying similar techniques to map out human photoreceptors, and their wiring towards the brain, may reveal clues to conditions affecting our vision.

Written by John Ankers

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