Cone selectivity derived from the responses of the retinal cone mosaic to natural scenes

J Vis. 2007 Jun 18;7(8):6. doi: 10.1167/7.8.6.


To achieve color vision, the brain has to process signals of the cones in the retinal photoreceptor mosaic in a cone-type-specific way. We investigated the possibility that cone-type-specific wiring is an adaptation to the statistics of the cone signals. We analyzed estimates of cone responses to natural scenes and found that there is sufficient information in the higher order statistics of L- and M-cone responses to distinguish between cones of different types, enabling unsupervised learning of cone-type specificity. This was not the case for a fourth cone type with spectral sensitivity between L and M cones, suggesting an explanation for the lack of strong tetrachromacy in heterozygous carriers of color deficiencies.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Color Perception / classification*
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nature*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods*
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Retinal Cone Photoreceptor Cells / physiology*