Color vision

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2003;26:181-206. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.26.041002.131116. Epub 2003 Jan 27.

Abstract

Color vision starts with the absorption of light in the retinal cone photoreceptors, which transduce electromagnetic energy into electrical voltages. These voltages are transformed into action potentials by a complicated network of cells in the retina. The information is sent to the visual cortex via the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) in three separate color-opponent channels that have been characterized psychophysically, physiologically, and computationally. The properties of cells in the retina and LGN account for a surprisingly large body of psychophysical literature. This suggests that several fundamental computations involved in color perception occur at early levels of processing. In the cortex, information from the three retino-geniculate channels is combined to enable perception of a large variety of different hues. Furthermore, recent evidence suggests that color analysis and coding cannot be separated from the analysis and coding of other visual attributes such as form and motion. Though there are some brain areas that are more sensitive to color than others, color vision emerges through the combined activity of neurons in many different areas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Color*
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology
  • Humans
  • Orientation
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology
  • Vision, Ocular / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Visual Cortex / physiology
  • Visual Fields
  • Visual Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Visual Pathways / physiology