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Chromatic information processing in the retina

Chromatic information processing in the retina

Like most mammals, mice feature dichromatic colour vision based on short (S) and middle (M) wavelength-sensitive cone types. In this project, we investigate the retinal basis of colour vision in the mouse, as a representative of a rod-dominated dichromatic mammal.

Our data support that the mouse retina contains cone type-selective circuits that compare S and M cone signals to generate “blue-green” opponent signals (Breuninger, Puller et al., J Neurosci 2011), likely resembling the “blue-yellow” opponent circuits in primate retina. In addition, we showed that the mouse retina may also generate colour opponency using a second strategy, which makes use of a dorso-ventral opsin co-expression gradient that is specific to mice and a small number of other vertebrates (Chang et al., Neuron 2013).

Recently we investigated if the spectrally divided retina of mice may represent a functional adaption to the visual environment. We could show that this cone arrangement provides for near optimal sampling of natural achromatic contrasts above and below the horizon: Blue (S) cones, but not green (M) cones preferred dark over bright stimuli, in agreement with the predominance of dark contrasts in the sky but not on the ground (Baden, Schubert et al., Neuron, in press). Therefore, the different cone types do not only form the basis of “colour vision”, but in addition represent distinct achromatic channels.

Involved Scientists:Tom Baden, Timm Schubert, in collaboration with S. Haverkamp (MPIB Frankfurt/M.) and Bernd Wissinger (Centre for Ophthalmology)
Funding Agency:Funded by the DFG (FOR 701 “Dynamics and stability of retinal processing”, CIN-EXC 307)