Concept: Rod cell
We tested whether eye color influences perception of trustworthiness. Facial photographs of 40 female and 40 male students were rated for perceived trustworthiness. Eye color had a significant effect, the brown-eyed faces being perceived as more trustworthy than the blue-eyed ones. Geometric morphometrics, however, revealed significant correlations between eye color and face shape. Thus, face shape likewise had a significant effect on perceived trustworthiness but only for male faces, the effect for female faces not being significant. To determine whether perception of trustworthiness was being influenced primarily by eye color or by face shape, we recolored the eyes on the same male facial photos and repeated the test procedure. Eye color now had no effect on perceived trustworthiness. We concluded that although the brown-eyed faces were perceived as more trustworthy than the blue-eyed ones, it was not brown eye color per se that caused the stronger perception of trustworthiness but rather the facial features associated with brown eyes.
Visual abilities of the honey bee have been studied for more than 100 years, recently revealing unexpectedly sophisticated cognitive skills rivalling those of vertebrates. However, the physiological limits of the honey bee eye have been largely unaddressed and only studied in an unnatural, dark state. Using a bright display and intracellular recordings, we here systematically investigated the angular sensitivity across the light adapted eye of honey bee foragers. Angular sensitivity is a measure of photoreceptor receptive field size and thus small values indicate higher visual acuity. Our recordings reveal a fronto-ventral acute zone in which angular sensitivity falls below 1.9°, some 30% smaller than previously reported. By measuring receptor noise and responses to moving dark objects, we also obtained direct measures of the smallest features detectable by the retina. In the frontal eye, single photoreceptors respond to objects as small as 0.6° × 0.6°, with >99% reliability. This indicates that honey bee foragers possess significantly better resolution than previously reported or estimated behaviourally, and commonly assumed in modelling of bee acuity.
Reversal of end-stage retinal degeneration and restoration of visual function by photoreceptor transplantation
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published about 6 years ago
One strategy to restore vision in retinitis pigmentosa and age-related macular degeneration is cell replacement. Typically, patients lose vision when the outer retinal photoreceptor layer is lost, and so the therapeutic goal would be to restore vision at this stage of disease. It is not currently known if a degenerate retina lacking the outer nuclear layer of photoreceptor cells would allow the survival, maturation, and reconnection of replacement photoreceptors, as prior studies used hosts with a preexisting outer nuclear layer at the time of treatment. Here, using a murine model of severe human retinitis pigmentosa at a stage when no host rod cells remain, we show that transplanted rod precursors can reform an anatomically distinct and appropriately polarized outer nuclear layer. A trilaminar organization was returned to rd1 hosts that had only two retinal layers before treatment. The newly introduced precursors were able to resume their developmental program in the degenerate host niche to become mature rods with light-sensitive outer segments, reconnecting with host neurons downstream. Visual function, assayed in the same animals before and after transplantation, was restored in animals with zero rod function at baseline. These observations suggest that a cell therapy approach may reconstitute a light-sensitive cell layer de novo and hence repair a structurally damaged visual circuit. Rather than placing discrete photoreceptors among preexisting host outer retinal cells, total photoreceptor layer reconstruction may provide a clinically relevant model to investigate cell-based strategies for retinal repair.
- Journal of undergraduate neuroscience education : JUNE : a publication of FUN, Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience
- Published almost 4 years ago
The systematic measurement of luminance thresholds during dark adaptation usually requires advanced optical equipment not available in most undergraduate classes. Here we describe an easy, inexpensive alternative that uses a printed grayscale to measure visual thresholds. Adaptation curves found with this method are comparable to those found with the technologically advanced tools in the standard literature and even show the shift from cone to rod vision at around 4-8 minutes. The exercise can furthermore be easily combined with a demonstration of the Purkinje shift (the different spectral sensitivity of the rod and cone systems) and of multi-sensory integration across vision, touch and proprioception. The lab allows students to collect, graph and analyze both qualitative and quantitative data. Student ratings of the activity are highly positive, even when compared to other visual neuroscience labs. The activity provides an effective and accessible tool for teaching several important neuroscience concepts, including retinal circuitry, spectral sensitivity, and multi-sensory integration.
Cryptochromes are a ubiquitous group of blue-light absorbing flavoproteins that in the mammalian retina have an important role in the circadian clock. In birds, cryptochrome 1a (Cry1a), localized in the UV/violet-sensitive S1 cone photoreceptors, is proposed to be the retinal receptor molecule of the light-dependent magnetic compass. The retinal localization of mammalian Cry1, homologue to avian Cry1a, is unknown, and it is open whether mammalian Cry1 is also involved in magnetic field sensing. To constrain the possible role of retinal Cry1, we immunohistochemically analysed 90 mammalian species across 48 families in 16 orders, using an antiserum against the Cry1 C-terminus that in birds labels only the photo-activated conformation. In the Carnivora families Canidae, Mustelidae and Ursidae, and in some Primates, Cry1 was consistently labeled in the outer segment of the shortwave-sensitive S1 cones. This finding would be compatible with a magnetoreceptive function of Cry1 in these taxa. In all other taxa, Cry1 was not detected by the antiserum that likely also in mammals labels the photo-activated conformation, although Western blots showed Cry1 in mouse retinal cell nuclei. We speculate that in the mouse and the other negative-tested mammals Cry1 is involved in circadian functions as a non-light-responsive protein.
Mammals receive light information through the eyes, which perform two major functions: image forming vision to see objects and non-image forming adaptation of physiology and behavior to light. Cone and rod photoreceptors form images and send the information via retinal ganglion cells to the brain for image reconstruction. In contrast, nonimage-forming photoresponses vary widely from adjustment of pupil diameter to adaptation of the circadian clock. nonimage-forming responses are mediated by retinal ganglion cells expressing the photopigment melanopsin. Melanopsin-expressing cells constitute 1-2% of retinal ganglion cells in the adult mammalian retina, are intrinsically photosensitive, and integrate photic information from rods and cones to control nonimage-forming adaptation. Action spectra of ipRGCs and of melanopsin photopigment peak around 480 nm blue light. Understanding melanopsin function lets us recognize considerable physiological effects of blue light, which is increasingly important in our modern society that uses light-emitting diode. Misalignment of circadian rhythmicity is observed in numerous conditions, including aging, and is thought to be involved in the development of age-related disorders, such as depression, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and cancer. The appropriate regulation of circadian rhythmicity by proper lighting is therefore essential. This perspective introduces the potential risks of excessive blue light for human health through circadian rhythm disruption and sleep deprivation. Knowing the positive and negative aspects, this study claims the importance of being exposed to light at optimal times and intensities during the day, based on the concept of the circadian clock, ultimately to improve quality of life to have a healthy and longer life.
Despite investigations for over 70 years, the absolute limits of human vision have remained unclear. Rod cells respond to individual photons, yet whether a single-photon incident on the eye can be perceived by a human subject has remained a fundamental open question. Here we report that humans can detect a single-photon incident on the cornea with a probability significantly above chance. This was achieved by implementing a combination of a psychophysics procedure with a quantum light source that can generate single-photon states of light. We further discover that the probability of reporting a single photon is modulated by the presence of an earlier photon, suggesting a priming process that temporarily enhances the effective gain of the visual system on the timescale of seconds.
The purpose of blinks is to keep the eyes hydrated and to protect them. Blinks are rarely noticed by the subject as blink-induced alterations of visual input are blanked out without jeopardizing the perception of visual continuity, features blinks share with saccades. Although not perceived, the blink-induced disconnection from the visual environment leads to a loss of information. Therefore there is critical need to minimize it. Here we demonstrate evidence for a new type of eye movement serving a distinct oculomotor demand, namely the resetting of eye torsion, likewise inevitably causing a loss of visual information. By integrating this eye movement into blinks, the inevitable down times of vision associated with each of the two behaviors are synchronized and the overall downtime minimized.
Most vertebrates have a duplex retina comprising two photoreceptor types, rods for dim-light (scotopic) vision and cones for bright-light (photopic) and color vision. However, deep-sea fishes are only active in dim-light conditions; hence, most species have lost their cones in favor of a simplex retina composed exclusively of rods. Although the pearlsides, Maurolicus spp., have such a pure rod retina, their behavior is at odds with this simplex visual system. Contrary to other deep-sea fishes, pearlsides are mostly active during dusk and dawn close to the surface, where light levels are intermediate (twilight or mesopic) and require the use of both rod and cone photoreceptors. This study elucidates this paradox by demonstrating that the pearlside retina does not have rod photoreceptors only; instead, it is composed almost exclusively of transmuted cone photoreceptors. These transmuted cells combine the morphological characteristics of a rod photoreceptor with a cone opsin and a cone phototransduction cascade to form a unique photoreceptor type, a rod-like cone, specifically tuned to the light conditions of the pearlsides' habitat (blue-shifted light at mesopic intensities). Combining properties of both rods and cones into a single cell type, instead of using two photoreceptor types that do not function at their full potential under mesopic conditions, is likely to be the most efficient and economical solution to optimize visual performance. These results challenge the standing paradigm of the function and evolution of the vertebrate duplex retina and emphasize the need for a more comprehensive evaluation of visual systems in general.
- Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society
- Published over 5 years ago
The results of early studies on colour vision in dogs led to the conclusion that chromatic cues are unimportant for dogs during their normal activities. Nevertheless, the canine retina possesses two cone types which provide at least the potential for colour vision. Recently, experiments controlling for the brightness information in visual stimuli demonstrated that dogs have the ability to perform chromatic discrimination. Here, we show that for eight previously untrained dogs colour proved to be more informative than brightness when choosing between visual stimuli differing both in brightness and chromaticity. Although brightness could have been used by the dogs in our experiments (unlike previous studies), it was not. Our results demonstrate that under natural photopic lighting conditions colour information may be predominant even for animals that possess only two spectral types of cone photoreceptors.