Is colour vision possible with only rods and blue-sensitive cones?

Nature. 1991 Aug 29;352(6338):798-800. doi: 10.1038/352798a0.


At night all cats are grey, but with the approach of dawn they take on colour. By starlight, a single class of photoreceptors, the rods, function, whereas by daylight, three classes, the blue-, green- and red-sensitive cones, are active and provide colour vision. Only by comparing the rates of quantal absorption in more than one photoreceptor class is colour vision possible. Although the comparisons generally take place between the cones, they can involve the rods as well. Here we investigate the wavelength discrimination of an extremely rare group of individuals, blue-cone monochromats, who have only rods and one class of cones. We find that these individuals can distinguish wavelengths (440 to 500 nm) in the twilight region where the rods and blue-sensitive cones are simultaneously active.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Color Perception / physiology
  • Color Vision Defects / genetics
  • Color Vision Defects / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Photoreceptor Cells / physiopathology*
  • Retinal Pigments / genetics
  • X Chromosome


  • Retinal Pigments