June 2015
Volume 56, Issue 7
ARVO Annual Meeting Abstract  |   June 2015
Studying the neural circuitry of blue with single cone stimulation
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Brian Schmidt
    Graduate Program in Neuroscience, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
  • Ramkumar Sabesan
    School of Optometry, University of California, Berkeley, CA
  • William Scott Tuten
    School of Optometry, University of California, Berkeley, CA
    Vision Science Graduate Group, University of California, Berkeley, CA
  • Jay Neitz
    Department of Ophthalmology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
  • Austin Roorda
    School of Optometry, University of California, Berkeley, CA
    Vision Science Graduate Group, University of California, Berkeley, CA
  • Footnotes
    Commercial Relationships Brian Schmidt, None; Ramkumar Sabesan, None; William Tuten, None; Jay Neitz, None; Austin Roorda, University of Rochester, University of Houston (P)
  • Footnotes
    Support None
Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science June 2015, Vol.56, 4014. doi:https://doi.org/
  • Views
  • Share
  • Tools
    • Alerts
      This feature is available to authenticated users only.
      Sign In or Create an Account ×
    • Get Citation

      Brian Schmidt, Ramkumar Sabesan, William Scott Tuten, Jay Neitz, Austin Roorda; Studying the neural circuitry of blue with single cone stimulation. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2015;56(7 ):4014. doi: https://doi.org/.

      Download citation file:

      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

  • Supplements

Purpose: More than a half-century of psychophysical experiments have indicated blue-yellow and red-green neural channels are responsible for color perception. Physiological recordings have identified single neurons early in the visual pathway with red-green and blue-yellow responses. However, the cone inputs necessary to produce color sensations as measured psychophysically do not align with the characteristics of opponent cells measured physiologically. To reconcile biology with perception, we measured color percepts elicited by stimulation of identified single cones in a human subject.

Methods: An adaptive optics scanning laser ophthalmoscope was used with retinal densitometry to classify (as L, M or S) ~1000 cones in a subject. Using the same system, single cone stimulation (543 nm) was achieved following published methods [Harmening et al. 2014 J Neuroscience]. The subject was instructed to report the sensation elicited by each stimulus using an electronic tablet. Pilot work indicated that, under our experimental conditions, red, green, blue, yellow and white were sufficient color categories to adequately describe the percepts.

Results: On a dim white background these single cone conditions did not elicit blue percepts. To encourage blue sensations, we adopted a background dominated by short wavelengths to preferentially hyperpolarize S-cones. Under these conditions, when the flash was detected, the percentage of percepts named blue was 22%, white 60% and red 18%. Stimulation of L-cones rarely resulted in blue percepts (9% of trials). M-cones were significantly more likely to result in blue responses (43% of trials). Finally, when M-cones were targeted, the probability of seeing blue decreased as distance to the nearest S-cone increased.

Conclusions: These results provide direct evidence that blue percepts can be driven by stimulation of individual M-cones. The increased likelihood of blue responses with M-cone proximity to S-cones suggests this sensation arises when M-cones sum with S-cones in post-receptoral pathways. Small bistratified ganglion cells, assumed to be the retinal pathway responsible for blue color perception, however, difference S- and M-cone signals, exactly the opposite of the trend found here. Our results are consistent with the existence of alternative neural circuitry in the retina responsible for mediating blue sensations in which outputs of S + M cone signals are differenced from L-cones.


This PDF is available to Subscribers Only

Sign in or purchase a subscription to access this content. ×

You must be signed into an individual account to use this feature.