Parallel pathways for spectral coding in primate retina

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2000;23:743-75. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.23.1.743.


The primate retina is an exciting focus in neuroscience, where recent data from molecular genetics, adaptive optics, anatomy, and physiology, together with measures of human visual performance, are converging to provide new insights into the retinal origins of color vision. Trichromatic color vision begins when the image is sampled by short- (S), middle- (M) and long- (L) wavelength-sensitive cone photoreceptors. Diverse retinal cell types combine the cone signals to create separate luminance, red-green, and blue-yellow pathways. Each pathway is associated with distinctive retinal architectures. Thus a blue-yellow pathway originates in a bistratified ganglion cell type and associated interneurons that combine excitation from S cones and inhibition from L and M cones. By contrast, a red-green pathway, in which signals from L and M cones are opposed, is associated with the specialized anatomy of the primate fovea, in which the "midget" ganglion cells receive dominant excitatory input from a single L or M cone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology
  • Humans
  • Primates / physiology*
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*